Friday, March 04, 2005

Consumer group joins fight to save Do Not Call

Consumer advocacy groups are starting to take up the fight to protect Indiana's Do Not Call law. The Evansville-based Consumers for Responsible Credit Solutions has weighed in, and the Terre Haute Tribune-Star has the story:

A consumer advocacy group based in Evansville has joined the fight to preserve Indiana's endangered "Do Not Call" law, which restricts telemarketing.

Consumers for Responsible Credit Solutions is lending its support to Attorney General Steve Carter, who opposes efforts by a national group to weaken Indiana's Do Not Call law, said Andrew Smith, the consumer group's executive director.

Smith was in Terre Haute on Thursday to talk about the group's efforts.

Consumer Bankers Association, which has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission, wants to pre-empt the Indiana Do Not Call law with a federal law.

[...]

In response, the Evansville-based consumer group is enlisting the support of local government officials and community leaders to join the fight, Smith said.

The bankers' association, a powerful lobbying group in Washington, "has decided they don't like Indiana's law because it doesn't have the gaping loopholes that the federal law has," Smith said.

The bankers' association is "going over the heads of Indiana voters, over the heads of legislators, around our court system and straight to this federal agency, the FCC," to pre-empt Indiana law, he said.

The consumer group is contacting Indiana mayors and asking them to sign an open letter to banks in Indiana that support the Consumer Bankers Association petition. The letter asks the banks to drop their support of the petition, Smith said.

It's also important for consumers to speak up, he said. "There's only so much we can do and the attorney general can do. Consumers have the ultimate power here - in their pocketbooks."

Consumer Bankers Association wants the ability to contact people with whom they have an established business relationship, Carter said. But it would open the floodgates to other companies.

"This means any company you do business with now - your bank, phone company, your mortgage company, credit card companies - could contact you to sell more products and services each time you pay a monthly bill. It also means all the companies you do business with on a daily basis would have the ability to contact you over an 18-month period," Carter said in a press release.

By the federal standard, the company could call the individual for 18 months after a business transaction, said Staci Schneider, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.

About 3.6 million citizens benefit from Indiana's Do Not Call law, state officials say.
Read the whole thing. You can check out the Web site for the Consumers for Responsible Credit Solutions here.