onsumer Protection Compliance Guidelines Regulations Concept

If you are making telemarketing calls to Montanans, you should be familiar with Montana’s registration requirements and the National Do Not Call Registry.

Telemarketing Registration

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.

 

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,
  • 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 – If a telemarketer desires to continue to conduct its business during subsequent years, the telemarketer must renew its telemarketer’s registration and update its surety bond form annually.  A telemarketer must submit its annual renewal application not less than 30 days prior to the expiration date (registrations expire December 31 of every year) to prevent a lapse of registration.  Alternatively, a telemarketer may request in writing that its registration be cancelled. If a telemarketer fails to meet any of the renewal requirements or if it cancels its registration, the telemarketer must cease doing telemarketing in Montana. Fines will be assessed for non-compliance.

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

IF A COMPLAINT IS FILED AGAINST YOUR COMPANY

If someone files a telemarketing complaint against your business, you will receive notice in the mail from either the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Failure to respond to these complaints can be a violation of state or federal law. 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.

National Do Not Call Registry

Telemarketers should purchase and use a list from the National Do Not Call Registry and update it every 31 days.  Additionally, if someone asks to be put on the telemarketer’s do-not-call list, the telemarketer must maintain its own list of people who have requested not to be called. The telemarketer cannot call them again.

Montana has fully integrated its do-not-call list with the National Do Not Call Registry. To comply with Montana’s telemarketing laws, businesses must acquire 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 engaged in telemarketing, answer the questions below to determine if you need to acquire 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 an IRC § 501(c)1-(c)(6) organization 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 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 IRC § 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 list from the National Do Not Call Registry if it is selling something and hires third parties to make the calls. If a person requests that the charity not call them again, the charity must honor the request.

If an organization is required to acquire and use the list from the National Do Not Call Registry and fails to do so, the organization faces penalties, including a fine of up to $11,000 per call.  In addition, criminal charges are possible for intentional violations.

Other Resources

Businesses wishing to advertise or do business in Montana are strongly encouraged to read the chapter of the Administrative Rules of Montana that relates to the Consumer Protection Act.