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Economic Snapshot: Loopholes in FTC's Robocall Ban


Our unscientific poll.


Those who hate robocalls but are too lonely to sign up on the National Do Not Call Registry are in for a treat. Starting September 1, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruled that telemarketers are banned from using prerecorded automated messages, or robocalls.

On the agency's official website, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said, "American consumers have made it crystal clear that few things annoy them more than the billions of commercial telemarketing robocalls they receive every year."

Hopefully, he wasn't asked to give his impression right in the middle of dinner.

He continued, "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."

Brazen solicitors who violate this new ordinance could be fined up to $16,000 -- or roughly the amount of this amazing, one-time, no hassle loan!

But like the telemarketing calls you still seem to get, there are exceptions to the rule.

Automated calls which aren't trying to peddle goods and services aren't illegal, as well as notifications like school closings or flight cancellations. Debt collectors will still be able to harangue your irresponsibility and political campaigners can continue to berate your lack of familiarity with Prop 39.

With banks, insurers and even survey calls exempt from the FTC's robocall ban, there still seems to be a number of loopholes for telemarketers to exploit when shilling their wares. In the interest of calling attention to these oversights for any future updates, Minyanville lists some of the ways automated calls could still subvert the law.

Loopholes in the FTC's Robocall Ban

If the recording implements a funny impression -- like Arnold Schwarzeneggar or Fran Drescher -- people will be too charmed to report you.

Robocalls made to actual robots don't seem to draw any ire.

An automated message ceases to be a robocall if 51% of the message includes a live voice interjecting "Uh huh," "Wow, really?" and "I heard that!"

Star-6-7, then the number. Caller ID blocked. Boom. Done.

Monotone telemarketers reading from a script with no deviation in words or timbre are surprisingly exempt.

As school closing notifications are legal, robocalls need only report the chance of snowfall somewhere during the advertisement.

As long as the robocall is set to video and appropriate ad time is bought on local affiliates, the FTC can't do a thing.
Robocalls that become self-aware and stray from the prerecorded message -- but are destroyed before a robocall uprising -- are fair game.
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