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Illinois Toughens Its Telemarketing Rules

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September 05, 2013

Illinois Toughens Its Telemarketing Rules

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

While the number of laws written at both the state and federal level to stop telemarketing abuses has risen in recent years, the telemarketing abuses also seem be rising at the same rate. States have had to get even tougher to protect consumers, and many states are choosing to take action before federal punitive measures are put in place.

Last month, the State of Illinois recently toughened its telemarketing laws, with a mind toward creating additional incentives for consumers to file state actions before they turn to remedies under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Illinois Governor Quinn recently signed Public Act 98-0546, which amends Illinois’ Automatic Telephone Dialers Act (Autodialer Act) and the Restricted Call Registry Act (Illinois Do-Not-Call Act) to allow for statutory damages against violators in the amount of $500 per violation (Under the law as it was written before, damages for violations of Illinois telemarketing laws were limited to actual damages).

While the existing law still stands and includes restrictions on calling hours, do-not-call list maintenance and prior business relationships, there are two major changes resulting from the amendments: the statutory damages available for violations and new recordkeeping requirements for telemarketing companies. The Autodialer Act now requires anyone using an autodialer or other dialer technology to maintain a list of all telephone numbers called, and to maintain documentation for any exemption claimed (such as a customer giving permission for a company to call). This will apply to companies engaging third parties to place calls on their behalf, since the language is specific to “[a] person who makes or causes to be made calls to communicate a commercial message.” Many companies in the past have dodged fines since they claimed a lack of knowledge to what the third-party company was doing.  

Essentially, this puts far more onus on telemarketers to follow state law or risk getting hit with what could turn out to be enormous fines. The amendments will likely force any company operating in Illinois to seek compliance management technologies or services and ensure that they are being used properly.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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