A new federal rule that's effective today prohibits telemarketers of debt relief or debt-settlement services from charging upfront fees to consumers seeking help. However, the FTC said today that it will defer enforcement related to tax-debt settlement services until it reviews questions raised by the industry about whether tax debt is in fact unsecured—that is, unsupported by underlying collateral. All unsecured debt is subject to the new rule.
The new ban is an amendment to the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, which prohibits deceptive telemarketing behaviors and requires telemarketers to provide certain disclosures upfront. The Federal Trade Commission, the agency promulgating and enforcing the rule, offers FAQs on your consumer rights related to debt collection.
Another amendment of the telemarketing rule, effective last year, banned many types of robo-calls, except for charities and—regrettably in this heated election season—politicians.—Tobie Stanger