Saturday, August 10, 2002

Can I interest you in - silence?

Joining no-call list by next week can stop sales calls

By Dave Niinemets
Enquirer contributor

        Last call for no call.

        That's how Kentucky Attorney General Ben Chandler is promoting the latest deadline for residents to sign up for the state's telemarketing no-call list.

        “The message we're trying to get out is that Aug. 15 is the next deadline to sign up,” said Mr. Chandler. “The other thing we want to let folks know is that we've collected $60,000 in fines so far by enforcing this law.”

   1 America's Digital Satellite Telephone Inc.; Nevada; $20,000
   2 Gutter Guard of Tennessee; Georgia; $10,000
   3 ATM Mortgage Co.; Minnesota; $5,000
   4 Nationwide Lending Corp.; California; $5,000
   5 The Money Station; Indiana; $5,000
   6 Communications Concepts; Tennessee; $5,000
   7 Warrior Custom Golf; California; $5,000
   8 Protect America Inc.; Texas; $5,000
Companies with lawsuits against them from attorney general:
   1 Simplified Data Solutions Inc.; Florida
   2 Sound Media Group Inc.; California
   3 Alpine Glass Inc.; Minnesota
   4 Consolidated Credit Services; New York
        The no-call law, prohibiting telemarketing calls to listed numbers with some exceptions, went into effect July 15. The first round of signups produced 610,273 phone numbers, representing more than one-third of all Kentucky residential telephones. Mr. Chandler expects almost 70,000 more numbers to be added to the updated list that will become effective in October.

        The fines have ranged from $5,000 to $20,000 per company. Eight companies, all based in other states, have agreed to settlements and promised to desist from further calls. The state has also filed lawsuits against four other out-of-state companies for violations. Mr. Chandler has assessed a $50,000 civil penalty against each of them.

        “There is a great deal of teeth in this law,” said Mr. Chandler, adding that Kentucky has one of the toughest telemarketing laws in the country. “If you violate it three times, it becomes a felony.”

        Tracy Becker of Florence plans to sign up before the Aug. 15 deadline. As a mother who recently started working from home, Mrs. Becker said the calls can become unbearable.

        “They always call in the evening when they think you're home,” she said. “I would say 90 percent of the calls come between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and it always seems to be when I'm putting the kids to bed or we're sitting down for dinner.”

        Mrs. Becker said she has caller ID, but many telemarketers get around that using an unidentifiable number. She said she is happy the state has another sign-up period.

        Deb Jackson of Southgate signed up the first time and said she has noticed that there have been fewer calls. The law does allow businesses with prior relationships with the resident and charities to get through. She has received those calls.

        “It's kind of annoying,” Ms. Jackson said. “But at least it's cutting down on all of those other silly calls, like asking if I want aluminum siding. I live in a condo. Why would I be interested in siding?”

        Mr. Chandler said the law is only as effective as residents make it. He said those on the list need to be diligent about reporting violators or the law won't work. So far, the state has received 2,200 complaints.

        “In my judgment, people are very serious about turning in telemarketers,” said Mr. Chandler. “(The number of complaints) gives you some indication about how fed up people are with these calls.”

        Anyone who has signed up already does not need to again. A new sign-up date will be set every three months. Anyone interested in being added to the list can call 1-800-592-2550 or visit Because it takes time to get the list to companies, the updated list won't go into effect until October.

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