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Stopping Illegal Robocalls Where They Start

TCPA and Truth-In-Caller-ID Calling Rules

Quick Reference

The table below summarizes many commonly-violated rules. The list is not exhaustive and does not include state-specific rules. This is not legal advice. Use it as a guide when consulting your attorney.

Applies To:
Impersonation of Federal Officer

Rule A: Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Reference: 18 USC § 912

Applies To:
Wire Fraud

Rule B: Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Reference: 18 USC § 1343

Applies To:
ALL CALLS to MOBILE or TOLL-FREE Numbers using an AUTOMATED or PRE-RECORDED VOICE

Rule C: PROHIBITED without prior express written consent.

Reference: 47 CFR § 64 1200(a)(1)

Rule D: Consent must be an agreement, in writing, bearing the signature (which if digital is recognized as valid under federal or state contract law) of the person called with clear and conspicuous disclosure authorizing automated calls.

Reference: 1200(f)(8)

Rule D1: The TSR requires that the written agreement identify the single “specific seller” authorized to deliver prerecorded messages. The authorization does not extend to other sellers, such as affiliates, marketing partners, or others.

Reference: Telemarketing Sales Rule

Applies To:
ALL PRE-RECORDED or AUTOMATED Telephone Messages

Rule E: Must state clearly at the BEGINNING of the message the name under which the entity responsible for the call is registered with the State Corporation Commission, AND during or after the message, must state the telephone number (other than that of the message player) of that entity.

Reference: 1200(b)(1)  & 1200(b)(2)

Applies To:
Advertising or Telemarketing Messages

Rule F: Must include instructions for a voice or key-pad activated opt-out mechanism within 2 SECONDS of the calling entity name announcement.

Reference: 1200(b)(3)

Rule G: Messages left in VOICE-MAIL must include a TOLL-FREE call-back number for opt-out requests.

Reference: 1200(b)(3)

Applies To:
Solicitations to Numbers on the DO-NOT-CALL list

Rule H: PROHIBITED without express permission evidenced by a signed, written agreement between the consumer and the seller.

Reference: 1200(c)(2)

Applies To:
ALL Telemarketing Calls

Rule I: Must transmit an unblocked Caller-ID which permits the recipient to call back to make a do-not-call request.

Reference: 1601(e)(1)

Applies To:
ALL Calls

Rule J: No misleading or inaccurate Caller-ID with intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.

Reference: 1604(a)

Applies To:
UNANSWERED Telemarking Calls

Rule K: Must not be disconnected prior to at least 15 seconds or four rings.

Reference: 1200(a)(6)

Most traceback requests are associated with calling campaigns that involve fraud and/or telemarketing using an automated or pre-recorded voice. Example calls are most often directed to mobile telephone subscribers and messages are captured in voicemail systems. Typically, each traceback example is representative of one million or more similar calls.

Note that the Federal Trade Commission is responsible for the Telemarketing Sales Rule, which is similar to, but not the same as, the TCPA which is enforced by the FCC. Our emphasis here is the TCPA and other rules that could apply to telecommunications providers. FTC jurisdiction does not currently apply to common carriers (but does apply to their customers).

Also, many service providers have Terms of Service (ToS) and Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) requiring customer calls be in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Often these contractual terms go beyond just what is legal – for example, they may prohibit calls that generate complaints (even if the calls are strictly legal). Callers should be sure to comply not just with the law, but with what their provider(s) require as well. Service providers should include and enforce terms that help keep problematic calls off the network.

Next Step: Best Practices When On-Boarding New Customers