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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

FTC to Create List to Prevent Telemarketing Calls

Aired June 20, 2003 - 19:41   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Ah, telemarketers. Although I routinely choose my credit cards, phone service providers and real estate transactions based on unsolicited calls to my home, turns out many Americans do not. And the federal government has good news for people who don't like telemarketing calls: a plan to let people sign up a national "do-not-call" list. Starting October 1 of this year, telemarketers who call numbers registered to this list could be fined up to $11,000 for each violation.
Well, that sounds good, right? But is it too good to be true and is it really safe to stop screening your calls? We'll see. CNNfn's Jen Rogers joins us with some answers. Jen, thanks for being with us. How does this list work?

JEN ROGERS, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT: Well, the list is going to be going into work some time in July. Around July 1, the federal government says they will start collecting the phone numbers. You will have to register your phone number and then you will be placed on this do-not-call list.

It sounds really simple, sounds like it's going to be great in going to work, but there are a few loopholes in this, indeed. Some kinks to be worked out and they mostly have to do with jurisdiction. This is being put in place by the Federal Trade Commission, or the FTC, and they have jurisdiction over interstate calling, state to state calling. So if you live in California, you get a call from telemarketer in New York, they can have jurisdiction over that. But if you live in California, get a call from a telemarketer in California, they don't have jurisdiction over that.

And there are also industries that are left out of this new regulation as well. Those industries include local -- long distance phone companies. Also airlines, state-regulated insurance companies. Those again, really have to do with jurisdiction. These last on two on the list, Anderson, you can probably imagine: charities and political organizations. Those are on this list, because as you can well imagine, telemarketing is really the lifeblood sometimes for those organizations.

COOPER: But now there are already some regulations placed on telemarketers a lot of us probably don't even know about. What are they?

ROGERS: Well, some of the regulations that are in place, I mean somewhere right now in the United States, someone is probably picking up the phone, getting a call from a telemarketer. But at about 9:00 p.m. those calls should come to a halt and those are part of the regulations that were put in place about a decade ago. Calls can only come into your house during the certain time of the day. They can come in from about 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Some of the other regulations that are already in place, and these will not be changing, telemarketers must explain they are making a sales call and they have to do that before they go into their sales pitch. Also, telemarketers must disclose all information about goods and services.

COOPER: So with all these ones that are exempt from this -- long distance phone companies, airlines, insurance, charities, political organizations -- how much of a decrease do you think we'll see if we put our names -- our phone number on this list?

ROGERS: Yes, that is the big question. Everyone wants to know is it going to stop? And people want it to stop on a dime.

At this point, though, the FTC isn't willing to go out and say that, especially, as you see, that there are loopholes and some kinks in here. The FTC does say that they think there will be a significant change and a decrease in the number of calls you receive. But at this point, it is really hard to quantify exactly what kind of change people see.

COOPER: And if you have questions there are numbers, there are some Web sites you can go to, right?

ROGERS: Yes, if you do have questions -- now remember, you do have to sign up for this. You're not going to be automatically signed up for it. So if you have questions about signing up for it again, FTC saying it will happen on or about July 1, you call call this phone number: 1-877-FTC-HELP. Or head to their Web site. They actually have information there. That's www.ftc.gov/donotcall. And you help can make up your own mind whether or not you want to put your phone number on this registry -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jen Rogers, thanks very much.

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