Any business that promotes a product or service by email, the internet, telemarketing, print, television, or radio should be acquainted with the most essential advertising regulations, many of which are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, the principal agency in charge of federal advertising law. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (and, to a lesser degree, the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC) develops and enforces guidelines that advertising must follow in order to comply with the law.
Taking the effort to learn how these regulations and rules may influence your organisation may help you avoid expensive blunders. Regulators will not hesitate to levy high penalties for infractions — up to $16,000 per infringement.
1. The Federal Trade Commission Act, Section 5
Section 5 makes it illegal for advertisements to engage in unfair or misleading conduct or practises in interstate commerce. Advertising must essentially be true, fair, and proven. According to the FTC, an advertisement is misleading if it includes or omits information that (a) is likely to mislead consumers acting rationally under the circumstances and (b) is “material” in that it affected a consumer’s purchase choice.
2. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA)
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits telemarketers from contacting residential lines unless “the telemarketer has adopted documented rules and processes for maintaining a Do-Not-Call list for subscribers who desire not to receive additional solicitations.” The Telephone Consumer Protection Act also controls and prohibits the use of automated dialling equipment and fax broadcast devices. The FCC was also obligated by Congress to draught rules to implement the TCPA.
3. The Telephone Consumer Protection and Dispute Resolution Act of 1992
This statute mandates the FTC to create and enforce specific laws governing the advertising and operation of pay-per-call (“900 number”) telephone services, as well as billing and collection practises. Specific measures, such as pricing disclosure requirements, required warnings on services oriented to minors, and certain disclosures in billing statements, must be included in the rules.
4. The 1994 Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act
The FTC adopted new restrictions under this legislation to prohibit telemarketers from engaging in actions that a reasonable consumer would see as coercive or abusive of their right to privacy. These laws, for example, limit the hours during which unwanted phone calls may be made to consumers and specify how these limitations must be disclosed.
5. The Telemarketing Sales Rule of the Federal Trade Commission
The TSR is in charge of enforcing the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act of 1994. After multiple changes, the TSR (among other things) assisted in the creation of the FTC’s Do-Not-Call programme, enforced a 3% abandonment rate for predictive dialers, severely limited the use of prerecorded marketing messages, and required that all telemarketers provide Caller ID information.
6.The 2003 Do-Not-Call Registry Act
To help with TCPA compliance, this statute established the government “DNC” List. The Act is enforced by both the FTC and the FCC. Placing one’s phone number on the National Do-Not-Call Registry will block most unwanted calls, but not all. In 2007, the DNC Registry Act was enhanced by letting customers to register once and have their phone numbers on the registry eternally.
7.The CAN-SPAM Act (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation)
The CAN-SPAM Act specifies criteria for commercial communications, allows recipients the opportunity to request that you cease emailing them, and imposes severe fines for violators. The Act applies to any commercial e-mail communications that advertise a product or service, including email that promotes material on commercial websites, and is not limited to unsolicited spam e-mails. Business-to-business email is not exempt from the law. This implies that any correspondence, including those to current clients, must adhere to the law. Click here for more information on how to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
8.The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)
The Bottom Line
One thing you can do is look at the FTC’s handy guidance for companies. It goes into further depth on how to comply with the laws described above.
If you’re planning a cross-state marketing effort, you should also speak with an attorney who specialises in advertising law to assist fine-tune your campaign before launching it. After all, what good is a successful marketing strategy if you can’t retain the profits?