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PSC looking into no-call list violators

By TIMOTHY R. BROWN

Associated Press Writer

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Telemarketers who make unwanted phone

calls to residents or fail to pay a $1,000 annual fee for the

state's no-call list could soon find themselves on the other end of

an unpleasant conversation with the Mississippi Public Service

Commission.

Commissioners say they are in the process of cracking down on

violators of the state's no-call registry because new telemarketers

are entering the state without paying the $1,000 registration fee

and the $50,000 surety bond required by state law.

Some telemarketers are unaware of the law, Commissioner Brandon

Presley says, and they are purchasing no-call list from third

parties that don't always include every Mississippi residents on

the state's no-call list.

"In the past, we have done a poor job of communicating the

rules to not just the telemarketers, but mainly to the public about

filing complaints," said Presley, one of two new commissioners on

the three-member utility regulatory board.

"Sometimes, it takes enforcement to raise awareness, and that's

what we are trying to do."

Telemarketer Fredrick Adams says he was unaware of the state

law, which went into effect in 2003, the same year he started Adams

Family Marketing Firm.

Adams appeared before the PSC this past week after a Mississippi

resident complained that she was illegally contacted by Adams

Family Marketing. The woman was on Mississippi's no-call list, the

commission said.

Adams, whose company markets wheelchairs, diabetic supplies and

other products in several states, said he bought a national no-call

list from a Florida-based company and had no clue that Mississippi

had a separate list and a registration fee.

"Every state is different. Mississippi is the only state that

we have had trouble in and we market all over. I haven't had any

problems in other states. They don't have fees like Mississippi,"

said Adams, who said he will now pay the fee and get registered.

"I think they (the commission) understand that I didn't know,"

he said.

Presley said it appears the owner of Adams Family Marketing

simply didn't understand the rules and his office has sent 280

letters to telemarketers doing business in Mississippi, advising

them of the law.

The PSC hasn't made a decision on possible penalties against

Adams in the case, but Presley said his office has over 20 cases

yet to be resolved against telemarketers.

The commission also recently approved a proposal, forcing

telemarketers to sign an affidavit that they will not block their

numbers or disguise who they are when making calls.

"And ... I am going to be sending a letter to the Federal Trade

Commission asking them to include Mississippi's numbers," Presley

said. "If you register on the Mississippi no-call list, they ought

to upload that into the federal list."

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On the Net:

https://www.ms.gov/psc/nocall/

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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