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First No Call sign up stop here Tuesday

Lincoln County residents will be among the first to sign up forMississippi’s new No Call list for telemarketers, said PublicService Commissioner Michael Callahan.

Callahan and members of his staff will kick off the southerndistrict sign-up process in Brookhaven Tuesday when the state’s newNo Call list law takes effect. Citizens can sign up at theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Government Complex from 2-4 p.m. or atHudson’s from 5-7 p.m.

Information on the No Call Law will be available and questionswill be answered.

“I would like to thank the members of the MississippiLegislature for working with the Commission and making this lawpossible. It will not stop all the calls consumers are receiving,but it will certainly give us a break,” Callahan said.

The law does several things, Callahan explained.

First, it directs the commission to form a “No Call” database.Consumers wishing to be on the “no call” list can give theirtelephone number, name and address to the commission.

Second, the law requires telemarketers, who are going to dobusiness in Mississippi, to register with the Public ServiceCommission, post a bond and purchase the “no call” list from thecommission. The list will cost telemarketers $800 if downloadedfrom the Internet, or $1,000 if the telemarketer wants a hardcopy.

“I don’t want consumers to think we are going to give thesetelemarketers their names and addresses. All they will get is alist of 10-digit telephone numbers. It will then be up to thetelemarketer to make sure they don’t call these consumers,” saidCallahan.

Third, the law limits the time when telemarketers can callconsumers. Telemarketing calls can only be made Monday throughSaturday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Fourth, the law prohibits telemarketers from blocking the callerID function on your telephone.

“You should not be getting anymore ‘unknown caller’ or ‘IDunavailable’ messages anymore,” Callahan said.

Callahan said signing up has been as simple as possible.

“In addition to calling and e-mailing us, we plan to go to all27 counties in the southern district and personally be available tosign up consumers,” he said.

Callahan pointed out that all calls will not be stopped by theNo Call list.

He said the law only stops callers who are making a ‘TelephoneSolicitation’ which is defined in the law as ” … any voicecommunications over the telephone line of a consumer for thepurpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of or investment in,property or soliciting a sale of any consumer goods or services, oran extension of credit for consumer good or service.”

“It is very important for consumers to understand what calls areactually prohibited,” added Callahan.

The law contains several exemptions:

* Most religious/charitable organizations

* Mississippi licensed realtors

* Mississippi licensed car dealers

* Mississippi licensed insurance agents

* Newspapers

* Funeral homes

* Stock brokers

* Banks with locations in Mississippi, and

* Companies you have an established business relationship withor had a relationship with during the past six months

“Many folks have asked me why there are any exemptions. Well,without some of these exemptions, the law would never have passed,”Callahan said. “After several years of trying, the commission justthought that getting something passed was better than nothing.”

Callahan said the commission the plans to use July and August asa sign-up period for the original list, which will be shut downaround Sept. 1.

“The Commission will take about two weeks to verify numbers andthen we are going to give the telemarketers two weeks to purgetheir databases,” Callahan said.

The commission will actually start enforcement and receivingcomplaints on October 1, he said.

“The list will be updated every quarter. So, if you miss thefirst sign up period, you would not be on the next list until Jan.1, 2004,” said Callahan.

All ‘No Call’ complaints to the commission will have to be inwriting.

“When you sign up, the commission will mail you a confirmationletter and enclose some complaint forms for you to use,” Callahansaid. “You can also download a complaint form from our Web site orcall our office and we can send you one.”