06-30-03: Ohioans can register to stop
|By TIMOTHY COX
The Daily Standard
The Federal Trade Commis-sion's (FTC) nationwide do-not-call list that
promises to restrict the telemarketing industry comes to Ohio starting Tuesday.
Experts say the new regulation could reduce the amount of telemarketing
pitches the average person gets by 80 percent.
Ohioans can begin registering online at www.ftc.gov/donotcall on Tuesday.
Starting July 7, those without Internet access can add their names and telephone numbers
to the list by calling 1-888-382-1222.
"Residents of Ohio feel harassed by telemarketing calls and are
frustrated when a company won't take no for an answer," said Robert S. Tongren,
director of the Ohio Consumer Counsel.
Registration with the FTC is good for five years or until a telephone
number is changed.
The volume of calls likely will not ebb until this fall. Telemarketers
do not have to stop calling numbers on the list until Oct. 1. Some businesses, such as
banks, airlines and charities, are not bound by the new FTC rule, but experts believe the
do-not-call list will reduce the volume of telemarketing calls into the average home by
about 80 percent. Violators could be fined up to $11,000 for each prohibited call they
Companies may call people who have bought or leased something from the
company within the past 18 months. Telemarketers also can call if a person formally
inquired about something or applied for something from the company in the past three
Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week
agreed to lend its authority to the FTC's do-not-call list. After the agencies sign a
memorandum of understanding, the do-not-call list will apply to virtually all business
except charities, pollsters and those calling on behalf of politicians.
The FTC plan includes some other telemarketing rules, too. For example,
telemarketers will have to identify themselves through caller ID technology in areas where
it is available and will have to take steps to greatly reduce "dead air" and
A statewide do-not-call list would be created if a bill that has passed
the Ohio Senate also survives a vote in the House. A state law on the issue is important,
Tongren said, because the FTC's rule covers only interstate calls, although the FCC entry
into the mix would wipe out that loophole.
Americans west of the Mississippi River already have been allowed to
add their numbers to the do-not-call list. During the past weekend, the FTC's Web site was
recording about 1,000 hits every second. Federal officials expect as many as 60 million
numbers to be registered this year alone.
Joining the do-not-call list is free, but those who sign up by
telephone also must provide an e-mail address for confirmation purposes.
The telemarketing issue has even grabbed the attention of President
George W. Bush.
"Unwanted telemarketing calls are intrusive, they are annoying and
they're all too common," Bush said last week. "We're taking practical action to
address this problem."
Cheaper long distance rates and the boom of computerized dialing
devices has led to a five-fold increase in telemarketing calls during the past decade,
FoxNews.com reported last week.
Not everyone is pleased with the new regulations, though. Telemarketing
industry analysts say the do-not-call list threatens to crippled an industry that employs
2 million people. The American Teleservices Association (ATA) blasted the FTC's program in
a news release last week.
"ATA members are dismayed that the FCC acted under political
pressure and without a thorough study and public discussion of its action's terrible job
loss consequences, curtailment of competition in key sectors of the economy and
substantially diminished choices for the U.S. consumer," ATA Chairman Tom Rocca said.
The ATA called the new program "a vote to eliminate 2 million
But the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), another industry trade
group, applauded the FTC's decision, saying the list will streamline the business for
marketers and customers. By weeding out people uninterested in receiving such calls,
telemarketers make themselves more efficient, the association said in a news release.
DMA officials did, however, complain about the estimated $7,000 cost
telemarketers will have to pay annually to get a copy of the government's list. The money
is being used to help fund the formation of the list.
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