Sunday, August 31, 2003

Ohio bill takes cue from federal do-not-call list

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Ohio figures to not be able to do much to make sure that persistent telemarketers stop bothering consumers when the national do-not-class registry goes into effect.

"Without a state law, (Attorney General) Jim Petro will have no authority to enforce this in state court," said Kathy Keller, a spokeswoman for the AARP, a strong advocate for a state do-not-call law.

"It will be literally like bringing a federal case. That's not going to happen without a huge number of violations."

Consumers in Ohio and elsewhere in the United States have until today to add their telephone numbers to a national do-not-call list.

Some telemarketers that continue to call numbers on that list after Oct. 1 could face fines of as much as $11,000.

By Friday, U.S. consumers had placed 41.7 million telephone numbers, including 1.7 million from Ohio, on the national registry maintained by the Federal Trade Commission.

The rules do not apply to charities, survey-takers, political organizations and companies that consumers already have a relationship with.

The state Senate approved a do-not-call proposal for Ohio in May and sent it to the House.

The bill sets up a do-not-call registry and gives Petro's office authority to investigate violations and pursue punishment, with a civil penalty of $500 to $2,000 for each violation.

"Without a do-not-call registry, we do not have jurisdiction to go after those violators in our local courts," said Michelle Gatchell, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.

"The feds have so much going on it would be easier if we could pursue violations on a state level."

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