The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a new rule governing telemarketing calls that feature prerecorded messages. Beginning Sept. 1, 2009, telemarketing companies must obtain call recipients' written permission before contacting them with a prerecorded message. More immediately, effective Dec. 1, 2008, prerecorded telephone marketing calls must have an opt-out mechanism so that recipients can elect not to receive those unsolicited calls in the future.
Telemarketers with pre-existing customer relationships will be allowed to continue using prerecorded messages to contact those customers only for one year after the rule is published in the Federal Register. At that time, telemarketing companies will need their customer's written permission before calling anyone with a prerecorded message.
Under the new regulations, charitable organizations can continue contacting their members or previous donors, but will need to offer an opt-out mechanism once the new rule goes into effect.
The FTC's new rule will not prohibit customers from receiving certain prerecorded informational calls, such as those which announce flight delay notifications, upcoming appointments, or similarly helpful information. These phone calls are unaffected by the new rule because they are not used to market products or services to the recipient. Healthcare-related phone calls also are exempt from the new regulations.
Under the new rule, the prerecorded telemarketing calls must: