FTC Update: Is Avatar Technology Considered Live Calls or Prerecorded Messages?

In a recent decision, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revoked its previous opinion regarding the use of “avatar” technology, sometimes referred to as “soundboard” technology. This technology allows companies to utilize prerecorded voice messages managed by live operators to respond during live calls. Basically, what that means is agents respond to consumers using appropriate prerecorded responses to simulate a live conversation instead of actually speaking.

Prior to this decision, the FTC exempted the use of such technology from the prerecorded message provision of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) on complaint is that consumers do not receive applicable responses to their questions during these types of calls. Due to this increase, the FTC will require companies to obtain express written consent before using such technology for initiating solicitous calls.

This requirement will take effect May 12, 2017.

As always, express written consent must be clear and conspicuous and require the consumer to take some affirmative action, such as clicking a “Submit” button. Below is a little refresher of what must be included in the disclosure statement:

  • The name of the seller;
  • The purpose of the call is telemarketing;
  • The number calls may be placed to, including wireless numbers if given;
  • Calls may be placed using an ATDS, avatar/soundboard technology, and or prerecorded messages (whichever is applicable); and
  • Consent is not a condition to purchase goods/services.

If you have any questions about the FTC’s updated opinion, avatar technology, or the express written consent requirements, please reach out to us at consulting@compliancepoint.com.

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