Hi there, Chimichan!
This is a very interesting question and luckily, there is quite a lot
of information on the subject.
I will focus on the laws and regulations governing the actual
technology, rather than general telemarketing and sales.
The first Google search that I performed gave me some good results [
with several companies who deal with automated computer dialing
The first result, Total Call Management Systems, had lots of valuable
answers to questions like the following:
"What is exactly Auto Dialer / Automated dialing?
Auto Dialers are telephony devices having auto dialing or speed
dialing capabilities. These are devices, which are capable of dialing
a large number of people automatically through a database or are
capable of randomly or sequentially dialing telephone numbers to
deliver a unified message or messages. The term Auto Dialer is
applicable to a wide range of products available in the market, such
as auto dialer telephony computer, predictive dialer, voice-mail
system and speed-dial system.
Auto dialers are designed to make outbound calls. They utilize
controlled voice activation to record answers to questions. This
provides the prospect with a normal conversational environment or
interactive environment whereby one can speak in a normal fashion
without bothering about pressing buttons on the keypad. Auto dialers
are meant to be creating qualified sales lead generation and finding
pre-qualified prospects for your business."
This company also suggest that you consult an Attorney to determine
the legality of automated dialing in each state.
Unfortunately, making unsolicited (cold) calls using this technology
to a residential number is strictly prohibited in all states across
The law is as follows:
"Autodialers are usually used to place artificial (computerized) or
prerecorded voice calls. Except for emergency calls or calls made with
the prior expressed consent of the person being called, autodialers
and any artificial or prerecorded voice messages may not be used to
contact numbers assigned to:
* any emergency telephone line;
* the telephone line of any guest or patient room at a hospital,
health care facility, home for the elderly, or similar establishment;
* a paging service, cellular telephone service, or other radio
common carrier service, if the person being called would be charged
for the call; or
* any other service for which the person being called would be
charged for the call.
Calls using artificial or prerecorded voice messages - including those
that do not use autodialers may not be made to residential telephone
numbers except in the following cases:
* emergency calls needed to ensure the consumers health and
* calls for which you have given prior consent;
* non-commercial calls;
* calls which dont include any unsolicited advertisements;
* calls by, or on behalf of, tax-exempt non-profit organizations;
* calls from entities with which you have an established business
Calls using autodialers or artificial or prerecorded voice messages
may be placed to businesses, although the FCCs rules prohibit the use
of autodialers in a way that ties up two or more lines of a multi-line
business at the same time.
If an autodialer is used to deliver an artificial or prerecorded voice
message, that message must state, at the beginning, the identity of
the business, individual, or other entity initiating the call. During
or after the message, the caller must give the telephone number (other
than that of the autodialer or prerecorded message player that placed
the call) or address of the business, other entity, or individual that
made the call. It may not be a 900 number or any other number for
which charges exceed local or long distance transmission charges.
Autodialers that deliver a recorded message must release the called
partys telephone line within 5 seconds of the time that the calling
system receives notification that the called partys line has hung up.
In certain areas there might be a delay before you can get a dial tone
again. Your local telephone company can tell you if there is a delay
in your area."
Quote from: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/tcpa.html
So in a nutshell, if you are using the artificial voice or
pre-recorded technology to place unsolicited sales calls (cold
calling) to residential telephone numbers, you will be breaking the
The main exceptions are if you are placing a call to a business or if
you are not making selling anything.
Then, you can place calls of this nature but you will still have
certain rules applied, I will explain the main one related to this
There is also a related technology known as "Predictive Dialing" which
simultaneously calls many numbers at once and only connects the calls
which are answered within a certain time limit, usually a matter of
seconds, to the system or sales agents.
However, many consumers do not like this practice as seen on an
advisory by the Federal Communications Commission:
The above document also has a handy list of states that have
implemented, or are in the process of implementing, "do-not-call"
lists which I will refer back to in a moment, first we have to acquire
a list of the most populated states.
Using the Census information available online, I compiled a short list
of the top 5 most populated states in the year 2000 (the most recent
data) which are:
New York 19,000,000
Data taken from: http://factfinder.census.gov/bf/_lang=en_vt_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U_GCTPH1_US9_geo_id=01000US.html
I will present the information by state with the relevant links, the
individual laws contain far too much information to copy into this so
I will give you the locations of the documents.
Acceptable error rates for Predictive Dialing
Setting standards for predictive dialer calls
Automatic Dial Announcing Devices (ADADs)
Main Telecommuncations Index
Freqently asked questions of the Attorney General - Telemarketing
Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act
"Rules That Apply to Computerized Calls
Artificial (computerized) or prerecorded voice calls cannot be placed
to your home, except for the following:
When you have given prior consent to such calls.
Non-commercial calls (for example, calls from charities, polling
organizations, political or government agencies).
Calls by or on behalf of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations.
Calls which dont have unsolicited advertisements.
Calls from companies with which you have an established business
note that this is exactly the same as the Federal Communications
Commission's law as mentioned near the top.
The Florida law documents do not specifically refer to Predictive
Dialing, although the usual Telemarketing rules will still apply.
The full law is here:
"Sec. 30. Violations.
(b) It is shall be a violation of this Act Section to
play a prerecorded message placed by an autodialer without
the consent of the called party."
The Telephone Preference Service also applies to most states of the
The 5 states which we have been looking at have the following status:
California - Effective from October 2003
Texas - Effective
New York - Effective
Florida - Effective
Illinois - Effective from July 2003
The full list of states can be found here:
The organization which are in control of this is the Direct Marketing
Telephone Preference Service - FAQ
Consumer Protection - Telemarketing
Consumer Law Page
Related Google searches
"computer automated dialing legal"
"us telecommunications regulator"
"population density by state"
I hope this provides all the information that you need, I've certainly
learned a lot about the US telecom laws this morning!