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DATE: September 30, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela A. Bonrud, Executive Director
PUC CAUTIONS TELEMARKETERS
The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is advising telemarketers to use caution starting October 1st when placing calls to consumers.
"Telemarketers should respect people's wishes not to be called while we wait for the courts and Congress to sort this out," said Chairman Bob Sahr. "The Direct Marketing Association gave its members good advice when it said they should voluntarily follow national and state Do-Not-Call laws. To do otherwise is to risk substantial fines."
"Presently we are dealing with a very fluid process. We hope that the court decision will be reversed quickly so that this issue may be resolved and citizens and businesses will know where they stand," added Vice Chairman Gary Hanson. "In the meantime, telemarketers should be consulting with their attorneys before making any calls."
The Federal Trade Commission created the national do-not-call list. On Thursday a U.S. District Court judge in Colorado ruled that the list was unconstitutional because it regulated business solicitations but not requests for charitable and political contributions. To comply with the judge's ruling, the FTC suspended the Do-Not-Call List. However, on Monday, a different federal agency, the Federal Communications Commission, announced it would enforce the list and penalize telemarketers who have the list and call consumers after October 1.
"From a practical standpoint, the FTC physically has the National Do-Not-Call List and, because of the judge's ruling, can't transfer it to the FCC or the states to enforce the law. We also have heard that telemarketers currently can't get a copy of the list," said Commissioner Jim Burg. "This raises some enforcement questions that federal and state regulators will need to address if the current court case isn't overturned."
The South Dakota PUC teamed with the FTC earlier this year to create the national Do-Not-Call list. This allowed consumers to sign up once, and for free, to be covered by both the state and national do-not-call laws. In addition to the consumer convenience, it saved South Dakota several thousands of dollars in administrative costs because the state did not have to create its own list.