Opt-Out of Pre-recorded Telemarketing Messages

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December 12, 2008 LITTLE ROCK--As of December 1, 2008, consumers have a new tool at their disposal to avoid receiving most prerecorded telemarketing calls. Recently the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) was amended to better protect consumer privacy at home. The amendment to the TSR requires any prerecorded telemarketing message to include a quick and easy opt-out option for receiving future calls. The opt-out feature must work for consumers who receive the message over the phone and for those who receive it via their voicemail or answering machine. Currently, prerecorded telemarketing messages are only allowed if a consumer has a standing business relationship with the company. For instance, your credit card company may leave you a prerecorded message with regard to your account. With the rule change, there are now more restrictions on the use of prerecorded messages. Sellers and fundraisers who utilized prerecorded messages must provide consumers with an interactive opt-out feature to avoid receiving future calls. Callers must be allowed to opt-out at anytime while listening to the message, either by pushing a certain button or saying a certain word. If the consumer chooses to opt-out, his or her name must be automatically added to the seller or fundraiser's in-house Do Not Call list and the call must be disconnected to free up the consumer's telephone line. It is important to note that some prerecorded messages are exempt from this new rule. For instance, political calls, legitimate market survey calls, and calls by your bank or phone company are not covered by this new rule because the FTC does not have the legal authority to regulate them. If you have opted-out of a prerecorded message but still receive calls, you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting the FTC's online Complaint Assistant at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Additionally, you should contact the Public Protection Department of the Attorney General's Office by calling (501) 682-2007 or toll-free statewide, (800) 482-8982.