Telemarketing Laws

The telemarketing industry is infamous for overly aggressive selling tactics and deceptive practices. While telemarketing is a great way to directly reach existing and potential customers, the industry is subject to a variety of rules and regulations to prevent abuse.

For example, commercial telemarketers are regulated by federal and state laws that establish curfews, do-not-call lists, and other requirements aimed at protecting consumer privacy.

Telemarketing is regulated at the federal level by two statutes: the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) derives its regulatory authority from TCPA, while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for enforcing TSR.

The following resources describe how to comply with telemarketing rules and regulations.

Provides information on complying with a number of rules applying to telemarketers and direct marketers, including the TSR and 900 Number Rule.

Describes the types of businesses and activities that are subject to the TSR and explains how to comply. 

Describes a telemarketer's responsibilities under FCC rules. This document is written mainly for consumers.

Offers legal guides to businesses about telemarketing their products, whether for business, charitable, or political reasons, and provides information on do-not-call lists and registering to access do-not-call lists.

Explains the changes made on Aug. 1, 2006 to fax advertising rules, which establish a business relationship exemption concerning unsolicited faxes.

States can apply additional restrictions which can exceed either of the federal laws in scope. Some common state laws include do-not-call lists, curfews, and license requirements. Additional state or federal laws can apply based on what is being sold in the telephone call. Credit cards, insurance and other products are subject to additional laws applicable to the sale of that particular type of service.

Do-Not-Call Lists

A Do-Not-Call Registry is a list of phone numbers from consumers who have indicated their preference to limit the telemarketing calls they receive. The national registry is managed by the FTC, and several states have their own registries. Compliance is enforced by the FTC, the FCC and state officials. It is illegal for most telemarketers to call phone numbers listed on a state or national Do-Not-Call registry.

Provides information to telemarketers and sellers, who are required to search the registry at least once every 31 days and drop from their call lists the phone numbers of consumers who have registered. 

Gives answers to frequently asked questions about accessing the National Do-Not-Call Registry, and outlines requirements for telemarketers.

Lists answers to frequently asked questions about complying with the rules governing the National Do-Not-Call Registry.

Registration for Telemarketing Companies

Several states require telemarketers to obtain a permit or license to operate. Many of these states exempt certain calls or businesses based on what is being sold, who it is being sold to, or the fact that the business has another type of state license. Cost depends on which exemptions are applicable to your business. States generally charge a fee for this license and some require that a bond be posted. Currently, state fees range from free to $6,000 per year, and bonds range from free to $100,000.

States Requiring a License for Telemarketers

Related Resources

View these additional resources to find out more about telemarketing laws.

Offers a free online training course on how to market and advertise your small business.

Provides a video hosted by entrepreneurs who explain successful marketing technologies.