Suing a Telemarketer: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I am a federal government retiree who does occasional substitute teaching just for fun.  Basically, I don’t work during the summer.  Also, I hate telemarketers and feel that companies who buy and sell individuals’ personal information in order to solicit are despicable. So, what did I do on my summer vacation?  I sued a telemarketer!

Bogus Email Claims Cell Phone Numbers Being Released to Marketers

Like so many emails these days you can't believe everything that comes into your inbox. A recent example of some of the half truths contained in well-intentioned emails includes the following which has been making the rounds on the Internet:

PRC Recommends Wireless Cell Phone 411 Directory Should be Complete Opt In

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) advocates that the wireless 411 directory that is slated to be launched in early 2005 provide a strict opt-in mechanism that requires express consent before cell phone numbers are listed in the directory. The PRC also believes that federal legislation should be strengthened to ensure this standard is met.

"We believe there are several reasons to recommend the opt-in standard, one being privacy," said Jordana Beebe, PRC Communications Director. Though the wireless industry touts their directory will be an opt-in standard, Beebe counters, "We are also concerned about the unregulated wireless industry overseeing the directory without legislative oversight."

California Do-Not-Call Registry Is Merging with the Federal List

In 2002, the California Legislature mandated that the state's Attorney General (AG) establish a statewide do-not-call list. It was to be operational by April 1, 2003. But in December 2002, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it would establish a national do-not-call list that would encompass all of the states. Rather than duplicate efforts and confuse consumers, the California AG's office instead joined with the FTC in order to merge the state's efforts with the federal list. The federal list will not be activated until October 2003. Here's how this has all transpired and what it means for you:

Consumers on the Do Not Call Registry Allege Telemarketing Calls by Mortgage Concepts

Consumers in Southern California say they have been receiving calls from a company called Mortgage Concepts even though they are on the National Do Not Call Registry. The pre-recorded outbound sales calls ask consumers to push a number on their phone if they are the homeowner. They are then asked additional questions such as whether they are in the market to refinance their mortgage and are told a representative from Mortgage Concepts will call them back. When a representative does call them back, the company does not disclose information about their whereabouts.

Caller ID: The Case for Consumer Education

The introduction of Caller ID to California has been an enlightening study in what happens when consumers are given adequate information to make meaningful decisions about safeguarding their privacy. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has mandated that the local phone companies educate consumers about the privacy implications of Caller ID. The CPUC has also required that the phone companies make both Complete and Selective Blocking available to consumers at no charge (called Per Line and Per Call Blocking in other states).

California Consumers: On Hold for New Telemarketing "Do Not Call" List

Few things annoy consumers more than intrusive telemarketing calls ­- which always come at the wrong time. Thanks to a new law, consumers can sign up to be on a statewide "do not call" list.

Many Californians have read about the new law and are anxious to be on the list. However, the sign-up does not start until January of 2003. Then, for just $1.00, consumers can be included on the list for three years.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and UCAN Launch the Pre-Recorded Telemarketing Calls Project

  • The phone rings. You rush to the phone, expecting a call from a friend. But instead, you're greeted with a canned message offering you a timeshare or a special deal on cell phone service.
  • You arrive home after a long day at work and retrieve your voice mail messages, only to hear a long-winded prerecorded spiel pitching you a deal on home siding.

What's wrong with this picture? Did you know that pre-recorded messages are a violation of federal law? And if the telemarketer is a company in California, did you know that all such calls must be introduced with a "live" person asking you if you want to listen to a recorded message?

Promises of Telemarketing Do-Not-Call Lists And What to Do While You Wait

Fed-up with unwanted telemarketing calls, consumers are anxious to add their telephone number to a do-not-call list. Interest has been fueled by recent media reports of a new do-not-call list soon to launched in California. When this happens, California will join about 20 other states that already have do-not-call lists.

In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has adopted rules that will establish a national do-not-call registry, and the FTC may be joined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in this effort.


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