Do Not Call list has big loophole
(News & Observer, The (Raleigh, NC) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Feb. 3--Thomas Williams has to interrupt his work several times a day to deal with unwanted calls from telemarketers.
They want him to answer a survey, sign up for a credit card, switch to their service.
"It does get annoying when we are busy," said Williams, a manager at The UPS Store in Wakefield.
It appears our success with the National Do Not Call Registry has been short-lived.
Putting our home phone numbers on the list keeps telemarketers from calling us at home.
But telemarketers have figured out that they can still get us at work. The N.C. Attorney General's Office is getting more complaints from businesses about telemarketing calls at their offices, spokeswoman Noelle Talley said.
There's little the state Attorney General's Office can do, however, because business phone numbers are not protected under the Do Not Call laws.
Few protections exist
It is illegal for a telephone solicitor to tie up more than one business line with a pre-recorded message, she said. The state has filed suit against companies that have done this. But for calls like the ones that Williams gets, there is no legal action a business owner can take.
One option is for business owners to ask telemarketers to remove their numbers from calling lists, said Mitchell Katz, spokesman for the Federal Trade Commission, which manages the Do Not Call list.
"They don't have to do it," he said. "But I can't see why they wouldn't if you ask them to."
Talley said many telemarketers get business phone numbers from Dunn & Bradstreet, a small-business consulting company. Businesses can write to Dunn & Bradstreet and request that the company not release their business phone number for marketing purposes, Talley said.
So why aren't business numbers covered under the Do Not Call registry laws?
Because business privacy does not rise to the same level as personal privacy, Katz said. Besides, he said, putting business numbers on the Do Not Call registry would interrupt the flow of business-to-business communication. "B-to-B calls are a huge industry," Katz said.
Businesses are allowed to add their numbers to the Do Not Call registry, according to the FCC Web site. But that registration would not make telephone solicitations to that number illegal.
Some business owners worry that placing their work numbers on a no-call list could hurt business.
That's why Zeb Hadley, owner of Spotless Pressure Washing in Raleigh, puts up with the unwanted calls, which he said are steadily increasing. "I'm scared that it might block legitimate business calls," he said.
There are many workers who don't have such fears; they find that telemarketing calls at the office disrupt their work.
It seems that if the FCC and FTC got enough complaints from workers, a legal solution might be found for businesses.We workers have some calls to make.
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