Telephones in the USA will be getting quieter this year as new Federal Trade Commission “Telemarketing Sales Rules” take effect on March 31st. However, new rules on Caller-ID and the new “do not call” registry will not go into effect until seven months after Congress approves funding for the program. The new rules include provisions to crack down on unauthorized billing by telemarketers, impose tight new restrictions on the practice of “call abandonment,” and require telemarketers to transmit “Caller-ID” information. The FTC expects to have the ‘Do Not Call” system ready to begin accepting consumer registrations in about four months after funding approval by Congress. Approximately two months after the completion of the phased-in registration, telemarketers will be able to access the registry to “scrub” their call lists. A month after that, the Commission will begin enforcing the “Do Not Call” registry provisions. Registration will be good for five years, or until the consumer changes his or her phone number or moves. The amended Rule also contains a narrowly tailored exemption under which telemarketers may continue to call consumers with whom they have an “established business relationship” such as credit card issuers. However, even if there is an “established business relationship,” consumers can make a specific request to the company not to call. Also, if there is a particular company from whom a consumer wants to receive telemarketing calls, the FTC says the consumer can give that company written permission to call, even if the consumer is on the national registry. For more information visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/rulemaking/tsr/tsr-review.htm.