The Federal Trade Commission is asking for comments on whether to strengthen its rules requiring telemarketers to disclose their identities via caller ID.  The FTC’s notice [PDF] suggests that the agency is taking aim at what it perceives to be deceptive identification disclosure practices. 

The FTC currently requires telemarketers to disclose their telephone number and, when technically feasible, their names.  In its request for comments, the FTC suggests that some telemarketers have chosen to show numbers only tangentially related to them or to show misleading terms like “Warranty Alert” in the name field.

Rather than propose specific rule changes in response to these concerns, the FTC asks for feedback on how the caller ID requirement should be altered.  For instance, the FTC asks whether it should more carefully define the required identifications made and whether the agency should now require all telemarketers to disclose their names regardless of their service providers’ capabilities.  While most of the questions in the notice focus specifically on caller ID, nonetheless the agency also implied that it might consider broader changes to its rules governing telemarketing practices.

The FTC’s inquiry is ongoing as the Federal Communications Commission considers changes to its rules regarding telemarketers’ disclosure of caller identification information during “robocalls.”   The FCC, like the FTC, has proposed changes that could impose tougher requirements on companies that market by telephone.

Comments on the FTC’s inquiry are due January 28, 2011.