NEW YORK (AP) -- The federal government is cracking down on "robocalls," those automated phone calls with the tendency to interrupt Sunday dinners and otherwise annoy consumers.
The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that it will now require telemarketers to obtain written consent from people before placing a robocall. Written does not mean handwritten, though -- electronic forms are OK.
The new rules also eliminate a loophole that allowed telemarketers to place robocalls if they had an "established business relationship" with the consumer. Now, they will have to obtain consent even if they had previously done business with the person they want to call.
To opt out of robocalls, call 1-888-382-1222.
Telemarketers will also have to provide an automated way for people to revoke their consent to the robocall by pressing a few keys on their phone during the call. If this happens, the new rules require telemarketer to add the person to the company's do not call list.
The FCC said it is not changing rules that apply to informational robocalls, such as airline flight updates, school notifications or warnings about suspicious bank account activity.
The FCC and the Federal Trade Commission already had rules aimed at preventing unwanted marketing calls. But the FCC said despite this, "too many telemarketers, aided by autodialers and prerecorded messages, have continued to call consumers who don't want to hear from them."