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Securities Law

MSRB Asks SEC to Approve Stricter Telemarketing Rules

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board has filed a rule change with the Securities and Exchange Commission that would tighten regulation of dealers' muni-related telemarketing practices and require them to respect customers' "do not call" requests indefinitely, rather than for just five years.

The MSRB filed the proposed change to Rule G-39 on telemarketing with the SEC earlier this month in response to a 2011 SEC directive requiring the board to review its telemarketing rules and to make them at least as protective as the rules of the Federal Trade Commission.

The SEC directive applied not only to the MSRB, but to other self-regulatory organizations.

Because the MSRB’s telemarketing rules must meet narrow statutory requirements in order to conform with FTC rules, the board had limited leeway in how they were written and therefore did not seek feedback on the proposal prior to filing it with the SEC, said a spokesperson.

But the MSRB did announce its intention in a July 2012 media release to make its telemarketing rules more consistent with those of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Rule G-39 already requires dealers that make telemarketing calls to maintain records of "do not call" requests, but the proposal would eliminate the requirement that the request be honored for five years, meaning that requests would be permanent.

In addition, the proposed rule change would prohibit dealers from blocking their telephone number when making outgoing telemarketing calls and would require them to record calls and meet stricter standards before charging customers for transactions resulting from telemarketing calls.

In addition, dealers would be prohibited from making outgoing telemarketing calls that deliver a pre-recorded message without the person's written consent to receive such calls.

The amendments would make provisions in G-39 "substantially similar to the FTC's current rules that prohibit deceptive and other abusive telemarketing acts or practices," the board said in its proposal.

The MSRB requested that the amendments become effective 90 days after approval by the SEC.

Market participants can view the proposal at www.MSRB.org by clicking the "Rules" tab, then "SEC Filings" and "2013 Filings."

Comments on the proposal can be submitted at www.SEC.gov., then Regulation, then Self-Regulatory Organizations.

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