American consumers have spoken and have done so loudly registering 50 million telephone numbers with the FTC's National Do-Not-Call list since the registry debuted in July.
This new telemarketing sales rule, which was scheduled to take effect October 1st, recently encountered two legal battles which could diminish the rule's intent - to allow consumers to fight back against annoying telemarketing calls.
The first legal battle against the national list occurred in Oklahoma where a federal judge ruled that the Federal Trade Commission did not have the proper authority to oversee the do-not-call list. On Monday, September 29th, President Bush signed legislation to give the FTC the proper authority to administer the national registry.
A second legal battle is now underway in Colorado questioning the constitutionality of the do-not-call list. This second challenge contends that the list infringes upon the 1st amendment right of free speech because it restricts commercial telemarketing calls but not those from non-profit or political groups.
Even without the protections intended by the national do-not-call legislation, you can still control the amount of telemarketing pitches you receive with these four easy steps.
First, check to see if your state has it's own "do-not-call" list. Many states created their own registry prior to the debut of the national list. You can check for state-by-state "do-not-call" listings at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/donotcall/statelist.html.
Whether your state has a list or not you can request to be placed on any individual company's "do not call" list. Write down the name of the company and the date that you asked to be put on its do not call list. You should not receive further calls from that company. Report violations to your state's attorney general's office.
According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), companies spent over $80 billion on telemarketing in 2002. Marketers will now look to focus those funds toward more traditional sales pitches to reach their targets and avoid possible fines. Consumers should prepare for the onslaught of direct mail and internet advertising they will receive.
To cut down on the amount of direct mail marketing you receive, contact the DMA by letter and give them your full name, your complete home address, your telephone number and your signature. Inform them that you want to register for their "opt-out" Preference program.
They can be contacted at:
Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
This registration will stop mailings from about 80% of companies for a period of five years. It will can take up to 90 days to honor your request if you contact them by mail. If you want a faster way to "opt-out" of their list, then consider going online to register for this service. You will need a credit card to pay the $5.00 charge to register online at www.dmaconsumers.org. There is no charge to register by mail.
Another measure to take is to "opt out" from pre-approved credit offers. The nation's three major credit bureaus provide credit reports to a number of "information vendors" or "resellers." These vendors use the information in your credit report to compile lists of individuals who meet certain financial criteria. They then sell them to companies that offer pre-approved credit cards or other lines of credit. To have your name removed from these lists, call (888) 567-8688.
National Do-Not-Call List or not, you can take control of your mailbox and enjoy less telemarketing calls and mailings with these simple steps.
About The Author
? 2003 James H. Dimmitt, www.yourfreecreditreportnow.com
James is editor of "To Your Credit" a FREE weekly newsletter for consumers. You can subscribe at http://tinyurl.com/bgo9; firstname.lastname@example.org