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Attorney General Lockyer, Sen. Liz Figueroa Announce Pre-registration for

Californians Can Sign-up Now to Stop Unwanted Telemarketing Calls
Monday, March 31, 2003
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SAN FRANCISCO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Senator Liz Figueroa of Fremont announced that beginning today, Californians may pre-register their home and cellular phone numbers on the national Do Not Call registry to avoid unwanted phone calls from telemarketers.

"I think about every Californian with a telephone is sick and tired of having their homes invaded by telemarketers who call with annoying pitches for stuff you don't want to buy and services you don't want to order,' Lockyer said. 'Starting today, consumers can go to my website to pre-register for the free national Do Not Call list and make sure that their phone numbers are off-limits to telemarketers.'

"This is a great day for Californians who care about privacy and want to protect themselves from aggressive telemarketing scams by stopping the calls in the first place,' Figueroa said. 'I urge California consumers to use this easy, convenient and secure Internet pre-registration process to put their numbers on the national Do Not Call list.'

Californian consumers who want to register on the national Do Not Call list can pre-register by going to the Attorney General's website at http://ag.ca.gov/donotcall/ clicking on the 'pre-register' link and following directions. A Spanish-language version also is available at the same website. Up to four telephone numbers can be submitted in a session. Consumers will be asked to enter their names, zip codes and the phone numbers they want to pre-register. The Attorney General's Office will forward the pre-registered phone numbers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which will operate the national Do Not Call program. Pre-registered phone numbers will be included in the first Do Not Call list that telemarketers must stop calling beginning in October. The information entered at the Attorney General's website will not be used for any purpose other than to get on the federal no-call list.

Pre-registration is limited to the Internet. There is no ability to pre-register by phone or mail. In July, the FTC will begin to register consumers by phone and the Internet. For more information, visit the FTC's website at www.ftc.gov/donotcall.

California was poised to join two dozen other states in enacting a state Do Not Call program last fall. Under SB 771 by Figueroa, the state program would have allowed consumers to register for three years at a cost of $5. When the FTC announced it would launch a national program with a five-year registry and no fee, California determined it would be more beneficial to consumers, businesses and the state to opt into the national program.

"Not only does it save cash-strapped California up to $8 million it would have cost to maintain a statewide database, having one free list is less confusing and more cost-efficient for consumers and businesses,' Lockyer said.

While most telemarketers will be covered by the registry, federal and state law provides some exceptions, including charities, political groups and small businesses with five employees or less. However, even exempt organizations will be banned from calling phone numbers listed on the national Do Not Call registry if they use a professional telemarketer to sell goods or services on their behalf.

The federal law also allows a company that has an 'established business relationship' to continue calling a customer's for up to18 months after the customer's last purchase payment or delivery – even if the customer's number is on the national Do Not Call registry. Companies to which a consumer has made an inquiry or submitted an application are permitted to call for three months. However, if a consumer asks a company to not call, it must honor that request even if it has an established business relationship with the consumer.

Businesses that continue to call California numbers listed on the national registry could face penalties of up to $11,000 per unlawful call in lawsuits brought by federal and state prosecutors in federal court. In addition, state, county and city prosecutors can enforce California telemarketing and consumer protection laws in state court. Individuals also may file their own lawsuits against telemarketers in small claims court.

Telephone numbers placed on the national Do Not Call registry will stay on the list for five years unless a consumer changes numbers or removes them from the list. Businesses will be required to purchase the list on September 1, and will have 30 days to 'scrub' their marketing lists of the numbers contained on the national Do Not Call registry. Consumers who register before September 1 should see a marked reduction in the number of unsolicited commercial phone calls they receive beginning October 1. The federal law requires businesses to check the list every 90 days and gives them 30 days to remove from their marketing lists all new numbers that have been added.

Lockyer and Figueroa unveiled the state's pre-registration program in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. They were joined by representatives of AARP, Consumers Union, the California Public Interest Research Group, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Assemblyman John Campbell of Irvine, the principal co-author of Figueroa's 'Do Not Call' bill.

For more information about the federal Do Not Call program, visit the FTC's website at www.ftc.gov/donotcall. Information about California pre-registration program and ways to stop unwanted phone calls before the national program begins is at the Attorney General's website at www.ag.ca.gov/donotcall or call (888) 398-7867.

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