As of today, unwanted prerecorded commercial telemarketing calls—or “robocalls”—are against the law. Unless the seller has written permission from consumers who want to receive such calls, telemarketers using prerecorded messages will face penalties of up to $16,000 per call.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) developed this rule in response to complaints about robocalls offering a range of dubious services, such as offers to lower credit card interest rates or calls claiming that the consumer’s auto warranty is set to expire. People also reported getting several calls a day, despite being on the National Do Not Call Registry.
The new rule applies to calls that attempt to interest consumers in the sale of goods or services, even if they previously have done business with the seller. The rule does not prohibit calls that deliver purely “informational” recorded messages, such as calls from politicians, banks, telephone carriers, and charitable organizations, as well as automated health care messages or debt collection notices.
When the law was first announced, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said, “Starting September 1, this bombardment of prerecorded pitches, senseless solicitations, and malicious marketing will be illegal. If consumers think they’re being harassed by robocallers, they need to let us know, and we will go after them.”
If you receive unwanted robocalls, Hawaii’s BBB offers the following advice:
For more consumer advice you can trust, start with bbb.org.