The FTC Narrows its View on Consent

Recently, we’ve heard a lot about the potential changes that could be headed the lead generation industry’s way. Most of this discussion has come primarily from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that, if approved, may wind up restricting their ability to use hyperlinks to link to a list of companies that may be calling.

In the wake of the FCC’s NPRM, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has gotten into the game and made its own update. If you’re not familiar already with the FTC’s “Complying with the Telemarketing Sales Rule,” it’s a great website that breaks down the FTC’s telemarketing rules in simplified, layman’s terms, including frequently asked questions (FAQs).  One of those FAQs has been recently updated to read:

May a seller obtain a consumer’s written permission to receive prerecorded messages from a third-party, such as a lead generator? No.  The TSR requires the seller to obtain permission directly from the recipient of the call.  The seller cannot rely on third-parties to obtain permission.

Many times, when a reasonable consumer thinks of prerecorded messages, he or she may think of the calls received about their auto warranty expiring, or from “the IRS.” However, many legitimate callers also like to have this “prerecorded message” language included in the consent disclosure to allow them:

  • To leave a prerecorded message when reaching a voicemail, so they can quickly move on to the next call; 
  • To play prerecorded disclosures during a call, to ensure it contains all required elements; or
  • To send ringless voicemails.

So, it seems the FTC has made its position clear on a lead generator’s ability to gain a consumer’s consent for prerecorded messages for its clients. It’s no longer allowed. Lead generators and lead purchasers must wonder where the industry is headed, between this change and the FCC’s proposed rulemaking. Time will tell, but it would appear federal agencies are dead set on tightening the screws on what’s allowed in the lead generation industry as a whole.

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