No more cold-calling for U.S. REALTORS

Commission removes state exemptions on no-call registry

New federal regulations in the U.S. will prevent real estate brokers and salespeople from using cold-calling to locate and contact prospective home buyers and sellers.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has included a provision to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that trumps exemptions to state-level no-call laws.

What the provision boils down to is states like Texas and Florida who allow exemptions to the do-not-call registry will now have their exemptions removed, preventing telemarketers from accessing people who have opted-out their telephone numbers. "Those exemptions will no longer be in effect," said FCC Spokesperson Rosemary Kimball.

The rules don't prohibit cold-calling, but they add the costly administrative burden of cross-checking telephone numbers against the national do-not-call registry and the possibility of fines for calling people who have opted-out their telephone numbers.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched the national do-not-call registry earlier this year. Consumers can put their telephone numbers on the registry beginning this month. Telemarketers will be required to cross-reference all the telephone numbers on the do-not-call registry with their own lists and scrub the opt-outs quarterly beginning in September. As of Oct. 1, when the new federal regulations are expected to become effective, it will be illegal for most telemarketers to call any number listed on the registry.

But the National Association of Realtors may take action to try to recover Realtors' now lost freedom to prospect for new business by cold-calling those telephone numbers that are on the national do-not-call registry.

NAR Senior Counsel Ralph Holmen said the FCC's amendments are a cause for concern, but the association hasn't had time yet to fully digest the FCC's 160-page report. However, NAR is assessing options for amending the Federal Communications Commission policy through the regulatory process or through a legal challenge. (CREA/INMAN 08/07/03)