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Register Today, Keep Telemarketers at Bay

LITTLE ROCK - Most Americans are not strangers to telemarketers. Every day, millions of us pick up the phone only to hear a recording or a salesperson on the other end. While most of us consider telemarketers a simple annoyance, sometimes they can become a real problem by calling repeatedly and utilizing unscrupulous sales tactics. To allow consumers to limit the number of telemarketing calls they receive, in 1999 the Arkansas legislature passed the Arkansas "Do Not Call" list. Arkansas was one of the first states in the nation to provide this protection to its residents. A few years later, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created the "National Do Not Call Registry", and the Arkansas list was merged with the federal list. At the end of fiscal year 2007, more than 145 million telephone numbers were registered. Today, as telemarketing complaints continue to be prevalent, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert to remind Arkansans about this valuable service.

The FTC recently released its annual report to Congress on the effectiveness and implementation of the Registry since its inception in 2003. According to the report, the National Registry received over 19 million new registrations during fiscal year 2007. Approximately 66,000 sellers, telemarketers, and exempt organizations accessed the National Registry during the fiscal year, with over 6,000 of those entities paying fees totaling more than $21.5 million. The fees supporting the "Do Not Call" Registry are paid by the telemarketers. Consumers can sign up for free. By most criteria, the Registry remains an effective consumer protection initiative.

Consumers who wish to sign up for the service can log on to www.donotcall.gov and fill out a simple form. Alternatively, consumers can add a number to the registry by calling 1-888-382-1222, but they must call from the phone number that they wish to register. Once a home or mobile phone number is added to the registry, most telemarketers have up to 31 days from the date of registration to stop calling. The service is free of charge, and the request is valid for five years.

"By taking just a few minutes to sign up for the Do Not Call List, consumers can save themselves from the numerous headaches caused by telemarketers," said Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

While Arkansans continue to add their phone numbers to the national registry, the Public Protection Department of the Office of the Attorney General continues to receive consumer complaints about telemarketers. If you have a phone number on the Do Not Call Registry for at least 31 days and you receive a call from a telemarketer covered under the registry, you may file a complaint via the FTC's Web site www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222. To file a complaint, you must be able to provide either the name or the telephone number of the company that called, as well as the date of the call. The Arkansas Attorney General's Office works with the FTC to enforce the Do Not Call Registry. There is no state specific registry, since the Arkansas list was merged with the federal list; however, if you have any questions or a complaint against a paid telemarketer, especially those calling on behalf of a charity, please contact the Public Protection Department at 501-682-2341 or toll-free at 800-482-8982.

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