The FTC's 900 Number Rule requires that certain information be included in advertisements and preambles for 900 numbers. Advertisements in print, on the radio, or on television for 900 numbers must include:
- If there are different rates for different options, the ad should include the range of fees
- The initial cost of the call and any minimum fees
- If there is a flat fee, the total cost of the call
- If there is a per-minute charge, the per-minute rate (as well as any minimum charge)
- The total cost of the complete program if the length of the program is known beforehand
- The cost of another 900 number to which you may be transferred
- Any other fees
On the advertisement, this information cannot be buried in small print. Rather, it should be placed next to the 900 number. It should also be printed at least half the size of the number itself. Such disclosures must also be made for television ads.
Can I Be Charged for a Preamble?
A preamble is the message that you hear when you first dial a 900 number (the introductory message). You cannot be charged for this. Also, this preamble must describe the service, the name of the company, and the cost of calling. It must also state the minimum age of calling (under 18 requires parental permission). After this, you must be given three seconds to disconnect the call without being charged.
What Types of 900 Numbers Are Covered?
The FTC's 900 Number Rule applies to various services:
- Sweepstakes and Federal Programs - You should not have to incur a fee to enter a sweepstakes; there must be a free way to sign up. Also, any 900 number offering information about government programs must state that it is not authorized or approved by a government agency.
- Children - 900 numbers cannot be promoted to young children (i.e. the chance to speak to a cartoon character). Such numbers must be educational in nature for children under 12. Ads directed at those under age 18 must require parental permission.
- Toll-Free Numbers - Pay-per-call companies cannot use toll-free numbers for their services. They also cannot connect you from a toll-free number to a 900 number.
- Collect Calls - Such services cannot make collect calls to you if the charge is more than the regular long distance charge for the call.
Do I Need a Lawyer Experienced with These Issues?
A business lawyer would be able to direct you to and guide you through the FTC's 900 Number Rule. A lawyer would be able to inform you of your rights under the Rule and can help you if you have any dispute.