Morrison, McGrath Announce No-Call Legislation
HELENA - Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath and State Auditor John Morrison on Monday announced draft legislation to establish a "no-call" consumer protection program thatwould allow Montanans to register their phone numbers and limit telephone solicitations. The legislation will be introduced in the forthcoming session of the Montana Legislature.
"The no-call list makes it easy for Montanans to do something about the constant barrage of telemarketing calls," Morrison said in a press conference Monday at the Capitol. "We have a great opportunity to give folks the tool they need to protect themselves."
"Any Montanan with a phone knows that telephone solicitations are out of control." McGrath said. "This legislation is meant to reduce the number of these unwelcome, often annoying calls."
Here's how the program would work under the proposed legislation:
- Montanans would register their telephone numbers on a no-call list free of charge. The list would be updated regularly.
- Telemarketers would be required to purchase the no-call list and refrain from calling the registered numbers.
- Telemarketers who continued to call a no-call number would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation. The attorney general or a county attorney could pursue the penalty. Individual consumers could also pursue relief up to $5,000.
The legislation is aimed specifically at calls that try to sell property, goods or services. It does not prohibit all telephone solicitations. Excluded callers would include:
- Telemarketers who have been invited or permitted to contact the consumer
- Telemarketers with whom the consumer has had recent business contact
- Telemarketers who have an existing business or personal relationship with the consumer
- Callers engaged in fundraising for a legitimate tax-exempt charity, provided a member of the organization is making the call
- Callers calling on behalf of entities that are governed by certain federal and state regulations, like insurance companies or a brokerage firm
- Callers calling on behalf of a candidate for office or his or her campaign or on behalf of a ballot measure
Morrison said the program would be self-funded, paying for itself through the fees paid by telemarketers. It would be free to consumers.
"Some states with similar programs require a consumer to pay a fee to register a phone number," McGrath said. "At this time, that is simply not a consideration. We are committed to keeping this program free to Montana consumers."
(This news release is available electronically at http://www.doj.state.mt.us/ago/newsrel/2002newsindex.htm or at newslinks.state.mt.us)