Orange County Register (California)
An Oklahoma federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Federal Trade Commission did not have proper authority to establish a no-call list. The FTC asked the court to stay the ruling while it appeals. In the meantime, millions of consumers who expected to see a decrease in telemarketer calls after Oct. 1 were left wondering what’s next.
Q. I registered for the Do Not Call list. What’s going to happen to all my personal information?
A. Consumer advocates believe the program eventually will go forward. Until then, they said, the Federal Trade Commission probably will hold on to consumers’ information. CALPIRG legislative director Steve Blackledge said he would not be surprised if Congress moved to approve an emergency bill confirming the FTC’s authority, something his group is encouraging its members to urge Congress to do.
”Fifty million people have signed up for this list. It’s (overwhelmingly) popular,” Blackledge said. ”Who wouldn’t want to be on the right side of this issue?”
Q. Will I get more telemarketing phone calls now that the Do Not Call list is on hold?
A. Probably not. Telemarketers, who have been trying to make as many phone calls as possible before the Oct. 1 deadline, will continue to contact consumers.
Q. How could this happen?
A. The $8.2 billion telemarketing industry argued that the FTC’s Do Not Call list violated their commercial free speech, but, said Jamie Court, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights: ”Corporations don’t have free speech in the Constitution because corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution.”
Q. How do I avoid telemarketers’ phone calls while the government sorts out the status of the Do Not Call List?
A. Avoid signing up for raffles or drawings at public venues such as shopping centers. Do not send in warranty cards for appliances and electronics because that could land you on a telemarketer’s list. The warranty will still be good. The Direct Marketing Association has its own do-not-call registry, which it says eliminates many unwanted calls. To sign up, visit: http://www.the-dma.org
When telemarketers call, keep a log of what company is calling, on behalf of whom and what product or service they are selling. Then tell them to put you on their own do-not-call list.
Q. Didn’t California have its own Do Not Call list?
A. Legislation was passed earlier this year to allow California Attorney General Bill Lockyer to establish a state no-call list, but California later decided it was wiser to piggyback on the FTC’s federal list. But Wednesday, Lockyer and lawmakers asked Gov. Gray Davis to hold off on signing the law that would allow that, said Hallye Jordan, a spokeswoman for Lockyer.
The state pre-registered 2.1 million Californians and sent those names to the FTC earlier this summer. By now, 12 percent of the 50.6 million Americans registered for the Do Not Call list are Californians. Jordan said the state will have a list even if it has to create it independent of the FTC.
”If the attorney general collected 2 million names telling people they would be on a do-not-call list, they better create a do-not-call list,” said Jamie Court, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. “If they don’t, that would be scandalous.”
Q. Why do telemarketers always call me at dinner?
A. Telemarketers call throughout the day, but Jordan said, ”I think they’re calling when they think you’re home. But doesn’t it kind of tick you off?”
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