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Shopping By Phone - A One-Stop Guide to Consumer Protection

The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) developed this information to help make your telephone shopping experience a pleasant one. The Web presentation offers easy-to-use tips, and tells you about significant federal laws and regulations that protect your consumer rights and/or combat fraud that can be committed by phone.

Why Shop by Phone?

Telephone marketing is a convenient way to learn about and buy products and services without leaving the comfort of your home. Some of the benefits of telephone shopping include:

  • Shopping 24 hours per day, seven days a week;
  • Buying goods and services with credit;
  • Comparison shopping with a variety of merchants;
  • Renewing subscriptions to magazines, clubs, or social events, or donating to your favorite causes;
  • Locating hard-to-find items — this can be especially convenient for those with unusual hobbies or interests;
  • Getting help and information before and after a sale;
  • Using toll-free numbers for ordering and customer service calls. Directory assistance for toll-free numbers is 1.800.555.1212.


Tips and significant federal laws and regulations that protect your consumer rights.

Telemarketing Sales Rule
The FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule prohibits misrepresentations and requires telemarketers to give you certain disclosures. It gives you the power to stop unwanted telemarketing calls by requiring companies, when asked, to place you on their do-not-call lists. Consumers can also register for a national Do-Not-Call registry.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a federal law implemented by the FCC, imposes restrictions on the use of automatic telephone dialing systems (also called autodialers), artificial or prerecorded voice messages, and fax machines to send unsolicited advertisements. It also mandates that companies remove your name from their calling lists upon your request, and coordinates the national Do-Not-Call registry with the FTC.

The Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule
This Rule covers merchandise you order by mail, telephone, computer and fax machine, and requires companies to have a reasonable basis for claiming they can ship an order within a certain period of time.

The 900-Number Rule
This Rule was implemented by the FTC to fight abuses regarding the advertising and use of 900 numbers by services selling information or entertainment programs delivered over the phone, and billed to the caller's phone bill.

Minimize Your Risk
A list of some of the most common frauds against consumers, suggested precautions when you buy or contribute by phone and information about credit card purchases are included in this section.

Telephone Preference Service
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS), a do-not-call service, assists consumers in decreasing the number of national telemarketing calls received at home. You can register for this service online, or by mail.

Where to Complain and Get Help
A list of agencies and organizations to help you with your concerns related to these rules and your rights as a consumer is included here.


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