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Pennsylvania lawmakers curb telemarketers

March 29, 2002|BY BOB MAGINNIS

The Pennsylvania state legislature, which has struggled to accomplish anything important during the current session, hit a home run Tuesday, passing a bill that will give residents some relief from telemarketing calls. There's only one additional item that wqould make this a perfect piece of legislation.

The bill, which was passed unanimously by both houses, creates a "do-not-call" list that telemarketers would have to buy from as-yet-unnamed non-profiot agency. If they ignored the list, they coulkd be fined $1,000 per violation., The penality increases to $3,000 per violation if it involves people 60 or older.

Telemarketers would have to obtain updated versions of the list once per quarter. Names would stay on the list for a period of five years, after which the consumer would have to apply again.

The Associated Ptress reported that in New York, 1.5 million signed up, along with nearly 50 percent of all residents in the state of Connecticut. Althogether, 13 U.S. states now have similar programs in place.

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Is this a hardship for companies? Hardly. Prior to the start of the shift, those who create call lists can highlights the names of those who've asked not to be called. And we don't expect everyone to sign up, because some people are so lonely that even a stranger's call is welcome. We recommend Gov. Mark Schweiker signhed the bill, which was endorsed by state Attorney General Mike Fisher.

Barbara Petito, a spokeswoman for Fisher's officie, said the state will set vup a tfelephone number so that consumers who don't want their dinner hour interrupted with solicitiations for companiues they've never heard of can get some relief.

In future years, we recommend one change in the law. Some telemarketers use devices which prevent Caller ID devices from indentifying the number of the person or business from which the call was made. We feel those businesses which are asking customers for their confidence should have enough trust to reveal their phone numbers.

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