Telemarketing to cell phones

This is not the standard question on whether it is legal to telemarket to cell phones! I know you can’t, but I have a question on the relevant law, 47 USC 227. It says, in part:

Notice the section I bolded. Does this mean you can telemarket cell phones if you dial the numbers by hand? Isn’t that a really big loophole that someone should be exploiting?

Don’t forget item iii - even if you dial by hand, you can’t do it if the cellphone owner has to pay for the call.

Yep, and since most cell phone users have to pay for incoming calls and there isn’t a reliable way to tell what the user’s pay plan is, telemarketers don’t bother with cell phones.


That’s not the way I read this. I read it to say you can’t make the call if you use and automatic dialer AND you are calling to a cell phone where they have to pay for the call. If you want to read iii separately, it would seem to outlaw any call to a cell phone so cell phones woudl only be useful for outgoing calls.

Yeah, sorry about that. I condensed the cite and took out the indenting. If you follow the link, you can see that iii is under A, along with i and ii, and it only makes sense if it’s an additional clause.

A major part of the question is how you get the phone number you are calling. If you are punching in digits manually,chosen at random or looked up in the phone book, you may be OK. But if you use a computer-generated list of numbers, a random number generator, or even a web-based number lookup, you may fall under the definition of an “automatic telephone dialing system”: