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FTC Announces Operation Tele-PHONEY; Earns Support of ATA
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FTC Announces Operation Tele-PHONEY; Earns Support of ATA

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May 21, 2008
By Susan J. Campbell
TMCnet Contributing Editor


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC (News - Alert)) has announced the largest telemarketing fraud sweep ever coordinated by the agency. “Operation Tele-PHONEY,” is the medium through which the organization has filed federal district court complaints against 13 allegedly deceptive telemarketing operations.


When combined with the actions brought by other enforcement agencies, the sweep encompasses more than 180 cases including both civil and criminal actions in the United States and Canada.
 
A strong supporter of Operation Tele-PHONEY is the American Teleservices Association (ATA), a non-profit professional trade association representing the contact center industry.
 
This endorsement is in large part due to the fact that this FTC operation promotes the same principles endorsed by the ATA for more than 25 years. ATA upholds efforts to enforce ethical business practices to protect the public, both business and consumer, from fraudulent telephone calls.

The ATA does not condone or support deceptive practice conducted through the telephone. In fact, it promotes channel-wide regulation along with the support of consumer groups.
 
Tim Searcy, the chief executive officer of the ATA, said in a Wednesday statement, “The current anti-fraud provisions contained in the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR (News - Alert)) as well as existing state and federal criminal laws are sufficient to protect consumers, provided they are enforced aggressively.” Searcy continued, “The FTC and its law enforcement partners have proven that today.”

The ATA employs its own measures toward self-regulation and enforcement of fraudulent activities within the teleservices industry. In 2006, the agency created a Self-Regulatory Organization and subsequently released its own contact center self-regulatory standards.

These standards include a section dedicated solely to consumer privacy protection and incorporate current data privacy laws and regulations. The standards also go a step beyond existing laws by requiring companies to comply with data security rules developed by major credit card associations, as well as best practices promulgated by international standardization organizations.
 
ATA members include companies with inbound or outbound contact centers, users of Teleservices, trainers, consultants, and equipment suppliers who initiate, facilitate, and generate telephone, Internet, and e-mail sales, service, and support.
 
The organization provides leadership in the professional and ethical use of the telephone for conducting business and is committed to serving the needs of its members by recommending the highest standards of quality for the channel and protecting the rights of consumers.

In the contact center industry, there are companies that are conducting legitimate business, yet there are also fraudulent activities and organizations that are giving other businesses a bad name. The ATA is in place to try and prevent these activities and give credibility back to the industry. This latest move by the FTC helps to further promote legitimacy within the industry, protecting both consumers and businesses.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for Market Drive News. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.

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