Monday, February 18, 2002

Do-not-call list appears to be working

New law has silenced unwelcome telemarketers

The Associated Press

        INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's new do-not-call law appears to have accomplished what otherwise required turning off or even unplugging home phones: Curbing unwanted telemarketing calls.

        “You'd better believe it,” said Indianapolis resident Vivian McGuire. “I told my husband, 'I'm gonna take us off that list. I don't get any calls, and I'm getting lonely.' Of course, he knew I was kidding.”

Indiana Attorney General:
        Ross and Vivian McGuire say the persistent ringing of their phone stopped after Jan. 1, when state law began requiring businesses to buy the state's $300 no-call list and check the nearly 800,000 phone numbers before making unsolicited sales calls in Indiana.

        One way of gauging satisfaction is tallying complaints received by the state's attorney general.

        During January, the attorney general's office received 950 complaints of telemarketers ignoring the list — about half the number of Missourians who complained the first two weeks after their state's no-call law went into effect.

        More than 784,000 Indiana phone numbers were registered for the list, which is updated quarterly. Phone numbers listed by midnight Wednesday will be designated no-call on April 1. Phone numbers filed after Wednesday's deadline will be added for the third-quarter update, effective July 1.

        Indiana's no-call list has critics, including a southwestern Indiana businessman who filed a lawsuit last month, saying the law is unconstitutional and anti-business. The case is pending in Vanderburgh County.

        The Federal Trade Commission is pursuing a national do-not-call list. The Direct Marketing Association also promotes a single list covering all states.

        “Legitimate marketers want to market to consumers who are likely to welcome commercial offers,” association president H. Robert Wientzen said in a statement last week.

        A few of the complaints Attorney General Steve Carter's office received turned out to be exempted organizations.

        In Indiana, newspapers are among four exempted entities, if the calls are made by employees and not telemarketing firms. Also exempted are real estate and insurance agents, and charities using their own employees or volunteers.

        “Our law is tighter — we have fewer exemptions,” Carter told The Indianapolis Star for a story published Sunday. “I've gotten a few communications from consumers who've learned there are some exemptions, and they're not happy about it.”

        For others, though, the mere prospect of a quiet dinner is worthy of high praise.

        “Before this law went into effect, I would receive around 150 calls per week,” Noblesville resident Michael Graham wrote to Carter. “Now it is down to zero ... this is the greatest law that was ever passed.”


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