Law Will Require Monthly No-Call Download

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A federal appropriations bill signed by President Bush this month apparently has language that requires telemarketers to download updates from the national no-call list on a monthly basis.

Currently, telemarketers are required to download updates from the list every quarter. But language in the bill, H.R. 2673, gives the Federal Trade Commission 60 days to develop new rules requiring monthly downloads.

The FTC did not lobby for the change but will carry out the will of Congress, said James Kohm, acting assistant director of marketing practices for the FTC. The agency likely will launch a "quick" rulemaking, complete with public comment period, to implement the congressional mandate.

No timetable has been specified yet, but the new rule would take effect 30 days after the rulemaking is finalized, Kohm said. The FTC will need to add infrastructure to its existing no-call list download site operated by AT&T to handle increased traffic from telemarketers.

Kohm said he did not anticipate an increase in fees resulting from the new requirement. However, any such decisions would depend on information gathered during the rulemaking.

Another recent change to telemarketing rules was the implementation of the caller ID requirement. As of Jan. 29, telemarketers must make their telephone number and, if possible, their name available for display on caller ID.

Telemarketers can use the name and number of either themselves or the client on whose behalf they are calling. But the number must be answered live or by an automated system and give consumers a way to opt out of further telemarketing calls.

In a statement, the FTC acknowledged that situations may arise in which a telemarketer transmits the required caller ID information but the data does not reach consumers. For example, in certain circumstances the telecommunications carrier may drop the information somewhere between the call center and the consumer.

In such cases, the FTC will not hold the telemarketer responsible if it can prove it took the necessary steps to transmit the information, the agency said. However, telemarketers are required to upgrade their equipment if they are not capable of transmitting caller ID.

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