The FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and Prerecorded Calls

Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) regulates prerecorded calls. It requires getting consent from recipients before sending telemarketing messages.

How can you tell if your message is marketing and needs prior consent? If it can result in a sale, lease or rent of goods or services it requires prior consent. The TSR also dictates that telemarketing messages include opt-out instructions. That way, consumers can choose not to receive any further communications. Furthermore, telemarketing calls cannot go to numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.

The National Do Not Call Registry

U.S. residents can add their home and mobile phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry. This protects those numbers from receiving telemarketing calls. They still get informational calls, such as appointment reminders. The registry does not block charities, political groups, collection agencies, or survey researchers.

FTC’s Rules on Prerecorded Reminder Calls

Prerecorded reminder calls are considered informational messages and are exempt from the TSR. From the FTC Business Guide:

“The TSR amendments prohibiting prerecorded messages in telemarketing do not apply to calls delivering prerecorded messages that are purely informational — for example, flight cancellation messages. Purely informational calls — as opposed to calls soliciting sales or charitable contributions — do not fall within the Rule’s definition of “telemarketing” — “a plan, program, or campaign which is conducted to induce the purchase of goods or services or a charitable contribution.” Thus, the prohibition on prerecorded telemarketing messages does not apply to purely informational messages. The following are examples of purely informational messages:

  • A reminder call for an appointment previously scheduled at the call recipient’s request;
  • Reminder calls for a series of recurring appointments previously scheduled at the call recipient’s request (e.g., weekly dance class reminders; quarterly pest control service reminders);
  • An update on a prior sales transaction (e.g., a notification of order status, shipping information, delivery dates and times, or overdue payments);
  • A recall notification.”

FTC Rules on Healthcare Reminder Calls

Healthcare Reminder Calls are also exempt from the TSR. The FTC website states:

“This exemption is limited to calls permitted under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), pursuant to regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. The only healthcare calls that are exempt are those “made by, or on behalf of, a covered entity or its business associate, as those terms are defined in the HIPAA Privacy Rule, 45 CFR 160.103.”

Does HIPAA Allow Appointment Reminder Calls?

Yes. HIPAA permits several types of healthcare prerecorded calls without prior authorization:

  • Prerecorded reminder calls for medical appointments or services (e.g., flu shots, mammograms, etc.);
  • Prescription refill reminders;
  • Durable medical equipment reminders (e.g., insulin needles, respiratory supplies, etc.);
  • Prerecorded calls to check on a patient’s condition.

Other Laws that Regulate Prerecorded Calls

There are different types of rules that pertain to prerecorded calls:

While Reminder Services, Inc. cannot provide legal advice, we try to notify you of any laws that may affect you. This article summarizes the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule in regards to prerecorded calls. This is not a full analysis. If you believe your business may be affected, you should consult with your own attorney. For more information, please read the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule.

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