Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The fight to defend Do Not Call comes to Evansville

The Attorney General went to Evansville on Tuesday in continuing efforts to round up support for the fight to keep Indiana's Do Not Call law intact. The Evansville Courier & Press (registration required) has the details:

'The law is now under assault'

Steve Carter brings his no-call fight to Evansville

By BILL MEDLEY Courier & Press staff writer
February 23, 2005

Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter on Tuesday said several more Indiana banks should withdraw their support for a proposed change to the state's no-call law.

During a brief stop in Evansville, Carter asked bank customers to call banks that belong to the Consumer Bankers Association to oppose a petition he says will weaken consumer privacy.

"The law is now under assault," Carter said at a press conference at Tri-State Aero. "What they're trying to do is change the rules in the middle of the game."

The CBA petition asks the Federal Communications Commission to preempt the Indiana do-not-call law with the federal no-call law. The federal law allows companies to contact people they have had a business relationship with in the last 18 months, while Indiana's law prohibits businesses from making calls to anyone who has signed up for the state do-not-call list.

CBA argues the change would allow banks to contact customers and would eliminate conflicting laws.

"It was really a sneak attack by the banks going to Washington," Carter said. He has embarked on a $30,000-a-day campaign on the issue. It includes television advertisements.

Two Evansville banks that belong to CBA, Integra and Old National, have dropped support for CBA's petition. Another CBA member, Fifth Third, has not taken action.

Other banks targeted by the attorney general are National City, Wells Fargo, KeyBank, Bank One, Huntington Bank and PNC Bank.

Carter said he sent a letter to Fifth Third asking it to drop its support of the CBA's petition. He said a Fifth Third representative from Indianapolis thanked him for the letter and "would take my views into account."

Fifth Third officials have said the bank is not actively seeking to change the Indiana law. The bank has also said the goal of the CBA petition is to simplify no-call requirements by using the federal law.

Carter said he didn't buy that argument.

"Since we went to cross-state banking ... they've had to comply with Indiana laws in many ways," Carter said of banks based in other states. "It is disingenuous for these multi-billion dollar entities to say it's too complicated."

Carter said he didn't agree that banks' business would suffer from not being able to call customers who sign up for the state do-not-call list. "There are many other marketing channels," Carter said. In a statement, the CBA said Carter painted an inaccurate picture of what could occur if the FCC approves its petition.

"Under federal law, consumers have the right to request not to receive future calls from individual companies - including those with which they have an established business relationship," CBA President Joe Belew said. "It is simply not true, therefore, that federal law will permit telemarketers to make repeated calls to consumers against (their) wishes," Belew added.
TV station WFIE has more.