Author of State Do Not Call List Troubled by Reports of Business Non-Compliance
TRENTON – In light of a recent news report that suggest telemarketers are ignoring both federal and New Jersey state law that prohibits calls to individuals on the Do Not Call registry, Senator Linda R. Greenstein, author of New Jersey’s anti-telemarketing law, today urged consumers to report these telemarketers to the state Division of Consumer Affairs.
“Solicitation and telemarketing calls at home are disruptive to New Jerseyans and can be a relentless invasion of privacy. Because of these major headaches and annoyances, we have passed some of the nation’s toughest anti-marketing laws in New Jersey,” said Senator Greenstein, D-Middlesex and Mercer. “But recent reports suggest that many telemarketers are ignoring the law and harassing residents even if they have placed their number on the Do Not Call registry. It is important that the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs is aware of these unlawful calls, so that they can take action to avoid future disturbances.”
Any New Jersey resident can register a complaint with the state Division of Consumer Affairs at www.nj.gov/donotcall/dnconlinefrm.htm. The person filing the complaint must have either the telemarketer’s name or phone number; have received the call at a residential or cell phone number; have either heard the message personally or through an answering machine message; and the telemarketer must have been trying to sell them something.
While serving in the Assembly, Senator Greenstein sponsored one of the nation’s strongest anti-telemarketing laws creating the Do Not Call list in New Jersey, which provides consumers with relief from telemarketers. The 2003 law prohibits telemarketers from calling numbers placed on the federal Do Not Call List; requires all telemarketers who call residents of New Jersey to register annually with the state Division of Consumer Affairs; bars telemarketers from intentionally blocking the customer’s use of their caller ID; prohibits telemarketers from calling between the hours of 9 PM and 8 AM; and requires telemarketers to maintain an in-house Do Not Call registry of customers who have stated that they do not wish to receive future calls from that company. The law imposes a $10,000 fine for the first offense and a $20,000 fine for second or subsequent offenses.
“Telemarketers who use unscrupulous means in an attempt to make a buck must be held accountable for their illegal actions,” added Senator Greenstein. “Unfortunately, unless the state agency charged with going after these violators know about the incidents they can not stop the calls. I hope that residents throughout the state whose lives are being interrupted by these persistent phone calls can take a quick moment out of their day to report them to the Division of Consumer Affairs.”
Federal Do Not Call regulations require telemarketers to check the list once every 31 days for new enrollees, but according to a recent news article, the number of telemarketers who are checking the list has dropped significantly while the complaints of unsolicited telemarketing calls to those on the registry has increased. According to an Associated Press article, in 2007, 65,000 telemarketers checked the Do Not Call List while last year only 34,000 telemarketers checked the list. From October 2010 to April 2012, complaints specifically about robocalls – or automated solicitation calls – rose from 65,000 to 212,000.
New Jersey utilizes the federal Do Not Call list to maintain its state-specific registry. Therefore, if a consumer signs up for the federal registry they are automatically added to the state registry. To sign up for the Do Not Call list, individuals may register through www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222.