New legislation hangs up on telemarketers

Kathleen Dooley

The telephone rings at an ungodly hour, jarring a bleary-eyed, excessively tired college student out of his fourth hour of sleep. He rushes to the phone, expecting to hear the familiar voice of mom or dad. Instead, a monotone voice greets him with, “Hello, I’m calling with [insert major credit card company here],” and then drones on until the student hangs up. It is 8 a.m. on a Saturday.

Telemarketers calling at inconvenient hours have plagued Americans for years, calling at meal times and often refusing polite rejections of their products. However, this may soon change.

Recently, Pennsylvania has joined 21 other states in passing a “Do-Not-Call” law, which enables consumers to reduce the number of telemarketing calls to their homes or offices.

“I think this law will allow college students to avoid unscrupulous telemarketers who target college students because they are often uneducated consumers,” said Troy Beaverson, the state’s deputy attorney general.

According to a press release sent out from Rep. Bob Flick (R-Pa.), the Do-Not-Call registration program consists of a telephone number and a website where consumers can register their names, addresses and phone numbers, free of charge. The names and numbers on that list will then be sent to telemarketing firms, who must remove the phone numbers from their lists within 30 days.

According to Beaverson, consumers still receiving calls from unwanted telemarketers should report those telemarketers to the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the attorney general’s office. “We’re going to have to rely on consumers contacting us,” Beaverson said. “They should report the phone number of the telemarketer if they have caller ID, and if not, they should report the name of the company. If there is a pattern of a certain company making a lot of calls, the case can be taken to civil court.”

Flick’s press release states that telemarketers who do not remove the names of these consumers are subject to “a civil penalty of up to $1,000, or $3,000 if the recipient of the illegal call is age 60 or older.” The list will be updated four times a year and those who sign up will stay on for the next five years.

The Do-Not-Call program is also cracking down on the blocking devices frequently used by telemarketers, which prevent the names and phone numbers of telemarketing companies from being displayed on Caller ID boxes.

Implementing the Do-Not-Call law does not mean an end to telemarketing, however. The law does not apply to telemarketers who already have an existing business relationship with customers or who call on behalf of charitable organizations, political parties or groups not selling goods or services.

Junior Ann Wuetig, a resident assistant in Farley Hall, strongly supports the new legislation: “I feel on-campus telemarketing needs to end because it’s a disruption. Students have all sorts of different sleeping patterns and schedules. We’re here for education, not to talk to telemarketers,” she said.

While many students encourage a crackdown in telemarketing, others remain skeptical about the new law. Junior Jessica Seward, who worked for a telemarketing company over the summer, commented, “At the company where I worked, we had Do-Not-Call lists, but most of the telemarketers never paid attention to them. I was told never to put people on our company’s Do-Not-Call lists unless the callers were extremely angry. I think the new law is a good idea, but I’m not sure whether telemarketers will follow through with it.”

Students can register their names, addresses and phone numbers on the Pennsylvania do-not-call list by calling 1-(888)777-3406 or registering online at Both the website and phone line are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The deadline for registering for the initial do-not-call list is Sept. 15. The list takes effect on Nov. 1.