Sunday, February 20, 2005

Attorney General comments in the Star

The Indianapolis Star in its editions for Sunday, February 20, 2005, ran a letter to the editor from the Attorney General concerning the assault by the bankers on the Do Not Call law.

My View: Steve Carter
Don't let them call you

February 20, 2005

Indiana's Do Not Call law is under attack for the fourth time. Each effort has been an attempt by telemarketers to find new ways around Indiana's law that protects people from unwanted sales calls.

This latest effort to attack your right to privacy and to override Indiana's law is being made by a group of banks asking the Federal Communications Commission to change the rules in Indiana and let them call people registered on our list if they have done business with them in the last year and a half.

More than 3.6 million choose to participate in the Do Not Call program. The program transcends every political and philosophical boundary, save one: people who make big money from telemarketing.

Why are they so intent on weakening our law? Quite simply, they do not want to adapt to changes in the marketplace. Telemarketing is just one of myriad marketing channels. Fifty-nine percent of Hoosiers do not want to be contacted by telephone and have registered their phone number on the state's list.

This isn't an intrusive law for businesses. Indiana's Do Not Call law gives businesses opportunity to contact customers to service existing accounts and to collect on debts. Customers may also be contacted if the business gets their permission before they call them, rather than assuming an intrusive sales call is welcome.

Some banks, hiding behind a group called the Consumer Bankers Association, have petitioned the FCC to "override" Indiana's Do Not Call law and want the federal government to o allow more telemarketing calls. The banks want to impose an "established business relationship" exemption on Hoosiers. Think of every company you do business with: phone company, bank, credit card companies. Each time you make a payment to one, you would automatically be allowing them to call you for 18 months. Also, any company whose products or services you purchase on a given day would be able to call you for the next 18 months. Translated, this means that these companies will be calling you forever.

A list of Indiana banks that are part of this group is posted on a Web site: Go to the site and find a branch near you. Call and demand that they drop their petition. These banks can make this stop. Don't let them tell you otherwise.

Carter is Indiana's attorney general.