Congress acts quickly to restore ?do-not-call' list

By Michael Davis

Congress moved quickly Thursday to pass a resolution that would give the Federal Trade Commission authority to oversee the national ?do-not-call' registry following a federal judge's ruling this week that the FTC overstepped its authority in creating the list.

Carlton Presley of Jonesboro, who registered his phone number on the list two months ago, said the list is a good idea and hopes Congress will see it through.

"I did it just because of the nuisance of telemarketers calling, generally, at the wrong time," he said. "They call during dinner or on Saturday morning," he said, and he got tired of it.

The 50 million-member list of consumers was slated to go into effect Oct. 1 but was derailed by a federal judge's ruling in a case between the FTC and groups of telemarketers who say the list could cost the industry up to $50 million in sales each year.

But the U.S. House passed the resolution Thursday, 412 to 8, to "ratify the FTC authority for the ?no-call list,'" said Congressman David Scott (D-Ga).

"I think that it would certainly help people stop being annoyed by these unwanted telemarketing calls," he said.

In March, President Bush signed a bill that would allow the FTC to keep the national list and impose fines of as much as $11,000 per call, on telemarketers that called numbers on the list. Registration for the free list began in June and was widely considered a great success.

The next step is Senate approval, which could happen as early as today, Scott said.

The Georgia Public Service Commission has been maintaining its own fee-based ?no-call' list since 1999. Up until the institution of the national registry, any Georgia consumer wishing to be placed on the list had to pay $5 for a two-year listing, said Bill Edge, a spokesman for the PSC.

"But we have changed the no-call system so that consumers have to sign with the federal list and they automatically go on the Georgia list," he said.

The creation of the federally maintained list, he said, will help save an estimated $500,000 for Georgia residents who wish to be on the list.

Under the PSC rules, any telemarketer calling someone on the list, whether or not the marketer is in Georgia, could face fines of up to $2,000. But when the national registry is launched, the FTC will be assessing the penalties.

To register on the No-Call list, call 1-888-382-1222 or go to www.donotcall.gov.

The Associated Press contributed to this article