The Telemarketing Sales Rule, or the TSR, is a federal law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which governs telemarketing generally. The original act was passed in 1995, and although it has been amended many times, there was a major amendment with regard to how debt settlement companies must operate in 2010.
With regard to telemarketers, the Telemarketing Sales Rule covers everything from the “Do Not Call List” to record keeping requirements to what a telemarketer is able or not able to represent to a potential customer. In scope, the TSR governs many of the same activities as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act with one major drawback — the TSR provides a private cause of action for violations of the rule if, and only if, the actual damages are $50,000.00 or greater. Rarely are there actual damages and one must rely on statutory damages such as those provided by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to remedy the situation and force compliance on a bad actor.
Many times, a state will pass a similar statute in order to provide a private cause of action for its consumers. For example, Ohio has passed the Telephone Solicitation Sales Act (TSSA) which mimics the federal TSR. Ohio’s TSSA is generally enforced by the Ohio Attorney General; however, it does provide for a private cause of action in some instances. For example, the TSSA deems the following acts to be deceptive and provides a private cause of action for such violations:
- If the telemarketer failed to properly register in the State of Ohio,
- If the telemarketer offered a gift or prize without following the proper procedures or conditioning the gift or prize on purchase,
- If the telemarketer misrepresents certain aspects of the sale, or
- If the telemarketer fails to properly disclose the company’s identity and other identifying information.
The above is not an exhaustive list but provides an idea of what a violation of the TSSA might entail. The acts involved are complex and work together in order to provide the consumer with a private cause of action. If you believe you have been engaged by a telemarketer that has violated one or more of these acts, it is recommended that you contact a consumer law attorney.