NEW YORK (The Blaze/AP) -- You may no longer have to leave the phone off the hook during dinner. 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.
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 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."
USA Today has more from an FCC official on the calls:
"We have gotten thousands of complaints," says FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. "Consumers were still getting robocalls they don't want and shouldn't get."
USA Today also reports that this rule change does not apply to calls that would be considered informational from non-profit organizations, political groups and schools.