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
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
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,"
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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