This Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) announced a new initiative to share consumer complaint-sourced telemarketer data with private businesses that develop call-blocking technology.

How will the FTC’s recent move affect telemarketers?

The FTC and Telemarketers

The FTC – which is tasked with enforcing federal telemarketing laws and related rules and regulations – reportedly receives over 300,000 robocall-related consumer complaints each month. According to this week’s announcement, the Commission will collect telemarketers’ data from such consumer complaints and provide the information to carriers, phone manufacturers, mobile app providers and other developers of call-blocking technology “as one way to determine which calls should be blocked or flagged before they reach consumers’ phones.”

The disclosed data for each complaint will reportedly include:

  • the purported telemarketer’s phone number;
  • the date, time and subject matter of the call; and
  • whether the call was a robocall.

Notably, the subject FTC telemarketer data is apparently sourced from unverified consumer complaints, which may contain wrongful allegations and information. Further, while the Commission’s latest move is purportedly aimed at stopping illegal robocalls, it is unclear how such call-blocking technology will identify and allow lawful telemarketing calls to remain unblocked (such as those made with the consumer’s unrevoked prior express written consent).

How a Telemarketing Lawyer Can Help

As the FTC’s recent campaign demonstrates, the Commission is pulling out all the stops to pursue telemarketers, highlighting the importance of complying with applicable state and federal laws, rules and regulations when conducting a telemarketing or text message marketing campaign. Many telemarketing-related legal risks can be minimized or eliminated entirely by working with an experienced telemarketing lawyer before issues arise. A well-planned calling or text messaging strategy can help protect sellers and their affiliate marketers from substantial liability. Further, a telemarketing lawyer can help to carefully review opt-in language, telemarketing scripts and text message flows to minimize the risk of unwelcome legal surprises in the future.