Speaker: FTC Uses FTC ACT to Keep Monitor BTB Telemarketers

NEW YORK — Business-to-business telemarketers take note: While you are not covered under the Telemarketing Sales Rule at all, you are covered under the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive business practices, and the Federal Trade Commission is keeping track of this.

This was the key takeaway from a presentation by Thomas Cohn, senior assistant regional director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Northeast Region, who spoke at an American Teleservices Association’s New York Metro Chapter meeting in the Great Moments Room at Yankee Stadium yesterday.

For example, Cohn mentioned how in his office, a case was being investigated that involved a b-to-b telemarketer that was pitching web services to thousands of small businesses — and then charging them for services they never authorized.

“We charged them with a violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act,” he said. “While we couldn’t charge them under the TSR, we still prosecuted them for violating the FTC Act, and I made a point of writing into their preliminary injunction against them and into their final order that is being investigated right now provisions that mirrored the Telemarketing Sales Rule provisions. So, basically, the order is going to cover them as if they violated the [TSR].”

Mr. Cohn also quoted some statistics from an annual report that it presented to Congress last week. He mentioned that more than 76 percent of U.S. adults have registered their primary telephone numbers on the national do-not-call registry as of Dec. 2005. Also, as of fiscal 2005, which ended Sept. 30, the FTC had received 1.2 million complaints.

Mr. Cohn said that the FTC is actively enforcing both the provisions of the do-not-call registry.
“We have stepped up our enforcement, and we will continue to step up our enforcement of do-not-call over the next few years,” he said. “Every one of our seven regional offices as well as our headquarters has currently active non-public investigations in this area.”

Mr. Cohn also said that the FTC most likely institute the proposed rule on Sept. 1 that would raise the fees for each area code from $56 to $62, and the maximum fee for all 280 area codes to $17,050. The rule also will allow telemarketers to be permitted to access the first five area codes on the DNC registry for free.

After the presentation, attendees were treated to an escorted tour of Yankee Stadium, including Monument Park, the Yankee Dugout, the press box and the Yankee Clubhouse .

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