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September 2004

DMA STATEMENT CALLER-ID FALSIFICATION

Falsely altering Caller-ID information for marketing purposes is not only unethical, it is illegal!

In response to recent news reports about a new Caller-ID service that would allow subscribers to transmit false Caller-ID information, The DMA has issued this statement to remind marketers about their rights and responsibilities when using Caller-ID technology.

When calling customers or prospects, it is deceptive and unlawful for a marketer to knowingly substitute and transmit a false, or ‘dummy,’ telephone number. Rather, wherever the technology is available, a marketer must:

  • transmit the name of the seller or service bureau; and
  • transmit an accurate and valid telephone number for the seller, the service bureau, or respective customer service department. A consumer should be able to call back this telephone number during normal business hours to ask questions and/or to request not to receive future calls.
Please note that a marketer MAY transmit a Caller-ID telephone number that is DIFFERENT from the number from which the call is coming AS LONG AS the number transmitted correctly identifies the name of the seller or service bureau and is a valid number that the consumer may call back during normal business hours to ask questions and/or to request not to receive future calls. For example, sometimes it may be necessary to transmit a Caller-ID number for the customer service department, instead of the number of the representative who is calling (since the representative’s number will likely be busy). In this instance, substituting the customer service department number provides the consumer with a number he/she can call back for more information and/or to request to be put on the company’s do-not-call list.

A marketer who intentionally creates and transmits inaccurate or false Caller-ID information is violating federal law—for starters, the Federal Trade Commission Act (which outlaws unfair and deceptive trade practices), the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Federal Communications Commission’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Moreover, transmitting false Caller-ID information violates the Direct Marketing Association’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practices (Article #44 and Article #51). Specifically, Article #44 (Caller-ID/Automatic Number Identification Requirements) advises: “Marketers should not block transmission of caller identification or transmit a false name or telephone number...” Article #51 (Laws, Codes, and Regulations) calls for marketers to abide by state, federal and local laws governing marketing practices and business transactions.

To review the DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practices, please visit: http://www.the-dma.org/guidelines/ethicalguidelines.shtml

To review the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, please visit: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/rulemaking/tsr/index.html

For information on the Federal Communications Commission’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act, please visit: www.fcc.gov

To review the news report about the new Caller-ID service that allows subscribers to spoof Caller-ID information, please visit: http://www.nytimes.com/cnet/CNET_2100-1039_3-5330682.html

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