The Secure Times

An online forum of the ABA Section of Antitrust Law's Privacy and Information Security Committee

FTC Seeks Comments on Caller ID Provisions of Telemarketing Sales Rule

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On December 7, the FTC announced that it was seeking comments on ways to strengthen the Telemarketing Sales Rule’s requirements related to the use of Caller ID.  Currently, the Rule allows consumers to screen out unwanted telemarketing calls by requiring telemarketers to provide Caller ID information.  The FTC is seeking comments on how to address technologies that hide callers’ identities.  Comments are due by Jan. 28, 2011.

Currently, the Rule’s Caller ID provisions require telemarketers to provide consumers who use Caller ID with either a telephone number for the telemarketer or the number of the seller or charitable organization the telemarketer represents.  Telemarketers must also provide the name of the telemarketer, seller, or charitable organization to Caller ID services where the telemarketer’s carrier makes this available.  The Caller ID provisions give telemarketers flexibility in determining what telephone number to transmit and which name will appear on the Caller ID services.

The FTC is seeking comments on a range of Caller ID-related questions to help inform its understanding of this issue, including:

  • How widespread is consumer use of Caller ID services to screen unwanted calls, and do consumers use other services that rely on the transmission of calling party numbers (CPN), such as call-blocking equipment, to avoid unwelcome telemarketing calls?
  • Would changes to the Telemarketing Sales Rule improve the ability of Caller ID services to accurately disclose the source of telemarketing calls or improve the ability of service providers to block calls in which information on the source of the call is not available, or has been spoofed?
  • Should the FTC amend the Caller ID provisions of the Rule to recognize or anticipate specific developments in telecommunications technologies relating to the transmission and use of Caller ID information, and if so, how?
  • Should the FTC amend the Caller ID provisions of the Rule to further specify the characteristics of the phone number that a telemarketer must transmit to a Caller ID service? For example, should the Rule require that the phone number transmitted be one that is listed in publicly available phone directories, a number with an area code and prefix that are associated with the physical location of the telemarketer’s place of business, a number that is answered by a live representative, or automated service that identifies the telemarketer by name?
  • Should the FTC amend the Caller ID provisions to allow a seller or telemarketer to use trade names or product names, rather than the actual name of the seller or telemarketer, in the name information displayed by Caller ID services?

Comments can be submitted here.

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Author: Heather Enlow-Novitsky

VP, Assistant General Counsel, Bank of America Merchant Services

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