More than 1,000 telemarketing complaints a day pour into federal government
Friday, October 17th 2003, 12:00 am
News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government is fielding more than 1,000 complaints a day from people who say telemarketers continue to call them even though they are on the do-not-call list.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission have received more than 18,000 complaints since Oct. 1, when the government's list took effect. Companies are required to obtain the list's phone numbers every three months; so far, 53.7 million numbers have been registered.
The government expects to block about 80 percent of telemarketing calls to people who join the list. Companies still can call people who registered if they have recently done business with them, and exemptions have been granted to charities, pollsters and callers on behalf of politicians.
Companies that continue to contact people who said they do not want to be called face fines of up to $11,000 for each violation.
The FTC and FCC have started to investigate the complaints, officials of both agencies said Friday. FTC Associate Director Lois Greisman said the priority will be to go after those companies with many complaints against them. ``We look for patterns,'' she said.
The telemarketing industry has gone to court to challenge the regulations, which were halted by a federal judge in Colorado. But the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver blocked the lower court decisions, allowing the registry to continue. The appeals court has scheduled a hearing on the issue in Tulsa, Okla., on Nov. 10.
People can register numbers at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222. They can file complaints at the same Internet site and toll-free number.
Telemarketing companies must pay to obtain the list. The annual fee costs $25 for each area code a company calls, with a maximum cost of $7,375 for access to all U.S. numbers on the list. The FTC said nearly 21,000 companies sought numbers on the do-not-call list, with 550 telemarketers obtaining the entire list.