By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Are you fed up with receiving “robo” (pre-recorded) calls?
Last year, in an effort to curb their use and appease public outrage, our elected officials required that an opt-out option be present on all pre-recorded calls. Unfortunately, it was deemed both cumbersome and ineffective in curtailing the unwanted intrusions.
One problem was if the call has answered by an answering machine, the option of pressing a digit to opt-out was rendered ineffective. Also, if a number was given to call, it would sometimes be cut off and not recorded. Another issue was that opt-out messages at the beginning of calls might not be heard if the message began playing prematurely but if it was at the end, you were required to listen to the entire message before receiving opt-out instructions. That was clever: offer the opt-out after the pitch. That’s like the proverbial “shutting barn door after the horses get out.”
So, the public was still outraged and our politicians acted. Now (effective September 1) consumer robo calls can only be legally made with prior written consent. (Since the law addresses consumer calling, that means I can still be afflicted by them at work.)
However, the FTC says that calls “from politicians, banks, telephone carriers, and most charitable organizations,” plus “certain healthcare messages” are exempt.
Fines for failure to have written authorization are up to $16,000 per call. That should slow them down a bit.