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Sign up for "do not call" registry

Law Review, by Jim Porter

“Is this Mr. Porter? My name is Mark Johnson and I hope you are having a good evening this Sunday. Time Magazine has a special offer for you.” Or “Mr. Porter, are you tired of paying high interest rates on your credit cards?”

Don’t you hate those telemarketing calls? Sometimes I respond by telling the caller to give me his or her home phone so I can call them directly. They usually miss the sarcasm.

Do not call registry

As you have probably read, there will soon be a way to stop those annoying calls. The National Do Call Registry is open for business. The federal government created a national registry to make it easier and more efficient for us little people to stop getting telemarketing sales calls. They finally did something worthwhile.

You can register online at donotcall.gov, or you can call toll free at (888) 382-1222 from the number you wish to register.

If you registered by the end of August, California and other states will begin enforcing the Do Not Call Registry on Oct. 1. If you didn’t make the deadline but register now, the calls will stop coming some time next spring. At least that’s what they say.

Be careful about con artists who are cropping up to take advantage of the popularity of the Do Not Call service to trick us into giving up personal information. Never share your Social Security Number with a person you don’t know, and of course, decline to give bank account and credit card information. No one will call you about the Do Not Call Registry, so if you receive a call, it’s a fraud.

The law requires telemarketers to search the registry every 90 days and delete from their call list phone numbers that are on the Registry. To file a complaint you can call toll free to (877) FTC-HELP.

Exceptions to the restriction include calls on behalf of a charitable organization unless a for-profit telemarketer makes the call. Other exceptions are long distance telephone companies, political organizations, public opinion or market surveys, airlines and insurance companies that operate under state regulations, and business organizations that have an established business relationship with you. They may call for up to 18 months after your last purchase or payment – even if your name is on the Do Not Call Registry. Also exempted from the new laws are companies to which you have made an inquiry or submitted an application. They may call you for up to three months.

The Do Not Call Registry was an instant a big hit. More than 6 million consumers added their telephone numbers to the list within the first 72 hours. The registry has more than 30 million telephone numbers on it now.

Be careful about completing forms for contests and the like, where in the fine print you may agree that sponsors may telephone you, even if your number is found on a Do Not Call Registry or list.

International sweepstakes

Here’s another similar scam. It is illegal to participate in an international lottery, so when you receive the call to enter foreign sweepstakes and lotteries, often based in Canada, it is a scam.

Fax and e-mail ads/penile implants

The only thing that probably makes me madder than those unwanted telemarketers is to receive 30 or 40 fax or e-mail ads a day. Most for penile implants. If I weren’t such a confident fellow, I would take it personally.

There are a few lawsuits challenging unwanted fax and e-mail ads. Wish them success. Of course, the advertisers claim First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. Right, someone has a constitutional right to e-mail me a Viagra ad everyday.

We need stronger federal legislation to stop unwanted fax and e-mail ads. Either that or I need a penile implant.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter-Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Reno. He is a mediator and was the governor’s appointee to the Bipartisan McPherson Commission and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or at the firm’s Web site, http://www.portersimon.com


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