Telemarketing & Do-Not-Call Lists

In Montana, telemarketing is defined as using the phone to encourage consumers to purchase, rent or invest in goods, property or services. If you wish to stop receiving telemarketing calls, put your phone number on the do-not-call lists.

Recorded telemarketing messages are illegal in Montana under MCA 45-8-216. There are a few exceptions such as the use of recorded messages to tell a customer that previously ordered goods are available for pick-up.

E-mail is not covered by this or any other Montana law. For assistance, go to OnGuard Online.

The Telemarketing Registration and Fraud Prevention Act requires sellers and telemarketers to register with the Department of Justice before conducting telemarketing transactions in Montana. Unless a business can prove it is exempt under MCA 30-14-1405, it must stop all telemarketing activities in Montana until it is properly registered.

Sign up to Be on the Do-Not-Call List

A do-not-call list is a list of phone numbers that telemarketers are not allowed to call. There are two lists – a federal and a state list. If you sign up on one, you are automatically placed on the other as well.

  • The Federal Do-Not Call List only covers calls that cross state lines.
  • The State Do-Not Call List covers all telemarketing calls within, to or from Montana.

If you place your phone number on the state and federal lists, you will receive fewer telemarketing calls. Three months after you sign up, it is illegal for most telemarketers to call you. In addition:

  • Even if your number is not on the do-not-call lists, you still can ask a company to put you on its own do-not-call list. The company must honor your request.
  • It is against the law for a telemarketer to call you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

It is free to sign up on the do-not-call lists. There are two ways to sign up:

  • Call (888) 382-1222 or TTY (866) 290-4236 from the phone number you wish to add. For example, to add your home phone number, you must call using your home telephone.
  • You can add up to three numbers by signing up online at the National Do Not Call Registry.

The only information collected is your phone number and the date you called. You will be signed up for five years or until your phone is disconnected. After five years, you may renew your registration. You cannot sign up by writing a letter.

To remove your name from the lists, call (888) 382-1222 and follow the instructions provided.

Who Can Still Call Me After I Sign Up?

Telemarketers are permitted to call for three months after you sign up. After that time, some organizations can still legally call:

  • Political campaigns and surveys are not covered by the do-not-call list.
  • Charities and nonprofits can still call you. If you do not want them to call, ask that they put you on their do-not-call list. If you ask them to, they must do so.
  • Telemarketers you have authorized to call will still be able to call.
  • Telemarketers who have an existing or previous business relationship with you (Montana’s list allows businesses to call within 180 days of your contact with them; the national list allows them to call within 18 months.)
  • Telemarketers who are calling from their own homes will still be able to call.
  • Professionals licensed by the state can call to set up appointments.

File a Complaint

If a telemarketer continues to call or you believe that a telemarketer has stolen your money, you may file a complaint against them.

  • If you don’t know where the telemarketer is calling from, call the FTC at (888) 382-1222.
  • If you know they are calling from Montana, call the OCP at (406) 444-4500 or (800) 481-6896 or file a consumer complaint.

Telemarketing Information for a Business

Application and Bonding Requirements – A business wishing to telemarket must have its registration application approved by the department before it offers consumer goods or services for sale. Telemarketers who do not have a physical location in Montana must also register with the Secretary of State as a foreign business.

Surety Bond Requirements – All applicants must submit proof of:

  • a surety bond of $50,000 issued by an A- surety company authorized to do business in Montana and registered with the Secretary of State OR, in lieu of bond,
  • a certificate of deposit, cash or a government bond of $50,000
  • The bond:
  • cannot be combined with other bonds
  • must be only in the Department of Justice’s name
  • must be issued for a two-year period

Annual Renewal Required – Telemarketers must renew their registration and update their surety bond form annually. The department requires a 60-day written notice prior to bond renewal. You have 30 days to either have the surety bond re-issued or you can request in writing that your telemarketing registration application be cancelled. If you fail to meet any of the renewal requirements or cancel your registration, you must cease doing telemarketing in Montana. Fines will be assessed for non-compliance.

How to Register:

  1. Complete the Telemarketing Registration Application and include all attachments. Incomplete applications cannot be processed and will be returned.
  2. Complete the Telemarketing Registration Surety Bond Form as proof of your surety bond.
  3. Mail the completed application packet to:Office of Consumer Protection, 2225 11th Avenue, P.O. Box 200151, Helena, MT 59620-0151. There is no application fee.

 

Complaints Filed Against Your Business

If someone files a telemarketing complaint against your business, you will receive notice in the mail from either the OCP or the FTC. Failure to respond to these complaints can be a violation of state or federal law. Penalties for not using a required do-not-call list include a fine of up to $11,000 per call. In addition, criminal charges are possible for intentional violations.Unregistered businesses and telemarketers who continue to conduct telemarketing in Montana are subject to civil fines and penalties.

  • Under MCA 30-14-1413, the sale of any goods or services by an unregistered seller or telemarketer who is required to register is void.
  • Under MCA 30-14-1414, an unregistered seller or telemarketer may be fined up to $500 and imprisoned for up to six months for a first offense, and for a second or subsequent conviction, may be fined up to $50,000 and imprisoned for up to five years.

To Purchase the State Do-Not-Call List

Under Montana law, telemarketers in Montana may be required to purchase and use a do-not-call list and must update it every 31 days. If someone asks to be put on your do-not-call list, you must maintain a list of people who have requested not to be called. You cannot call them again. Montana has fully integrated its state do-not-call list with the National Do-Not-Call Registry. To comply with Montana’s telemarketing laws, businesses must purchase the (406) area code or a package of area codes that includes the (406) area code from the National Do-Not-Call Registry. The price varies depending on how many area codes a business purchases. For more information, pricing details, or to purchase the National Do-Not-Call Registry, go to the Telemarketer section of the National Do Not Call Registry website.

Telemarketers who call across state lines need to buy the list for any area code they call.

If you are not engaged in telemarketing, you do not need to buy the list. If you are engaged in telemarketing, answer the questions below to determine if you need to buy the list. If the answer to any of the questions is yes, your business does not need to use the state do-not-call list. If you answer no to all of the questions, your business is required to purchase and use the state do-not-call list.

  • Are you a 501(c)1-(c)6 engaged in fundraising to support your charitable purpose and not using third-party telemarketers to make the calls?
  • Are you licensed by Montana to carry out your trade and calling to set an appointment only?
  • Are you regulated by a federal agency and required by that same agency to maintain a do-not-call list?
  • Are you calling from your own primary residence?
  • Are you calling someone with whom you have had a business contact within the last 180 days or someone whose number you got by referral?
  • Has the person specifically asked you to call them?

A nonprofit organization does not have to buy the state do-not-call list if:

  • it seeks donations without selling anything. That does not qualify as telemarketing under Montana law.
  • it is selling something and is a tax-exempt organization under 501(c)1-(c)6, provided it does not hire third parties to make the calls.

A charity or nonprofit organization is required to buy the state do-not-call list if it is selling something and hires third parties to make the calls. If a person requests that your organization not call them again, you must honor the request.

Telemarketing Sales Rule

The FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule requires certain disclosures and prohibits misrepresentations. It gives you the power to stop unwanted telemarketing calls and gives state law enforcement officers the authority to prosecute fraudulent telemarketers who operate across state lines. The Rule covers most types of telemarketing calls to consumers, including calls to promote goods, services, “sweepstakes,” and prize promotion or investment opportunities. It also applies to calls consumers make in response to materials received in the mail, or offers received through the Internet.

It can help you determine if you’re talking with a legitimate telemarketer or a scam artist.

  • Telemarketers must tell you it’s a sales call and who’s doing the selling before they make their pitch. If it’s a prize promotion, they must tell you that no purchase or payment is necessary to enter or win. If you’re asked to pay for a prize, hang up. Free is free.
  • It’s illegal for telemarketers to misrepresent any information, including facts about their goods or services, the earnings potential, profitability, or risk of an investment, or the nature of a prize in a prize-promotion scheme.
  • Telemarketers must tell you the total cost of the products or services offered and any restrictions on getting or using them, or that a sale is final or nonrefundable, before you pay. In a prize promotion, they must tell you the odds of winning, that no purchase or payment is necessary to win, and any restrictions or conditions of receiving the prize.
  • It’s illegal for a telemarketer to withdraw money from your checking account without your express, verifiable authorization. That means they must tell you the total number of payments, the amount of each payment, the date the payments will be submitted to your bank, and which account they will charge.
  • Telemarketers cannot lie to get you to pay, no matter what method of payment you use.

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