Caller-ID Campaign Jams Phone Lines in Osaka

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A campaign to dial consumer phone lines and hang up after one ring to leave a marketing message on caller-ID displays is blamed for a telephone outage in Osaka, Japan's second-largest city.

About 5.16 million landline and mobile phone customers suffered outages July 29, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. said. The telecommunications provider said it suspended the phone service of a company, which it declined to identify, on accusations that its effort to leave dial-back information on caller-ID displays overloaded the city's telephone network, the Associated Press reported.

The company was involved in a similar campaign this month that also caused a service shutdown, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone said.

Such marketing campaigns, in which the caller hangs up intentionally to leave a message on caller ID to get consumers to call back, have been tried in the United States, though without such disastrous effects. Consumers have reported receiving such calls from Voice Mail Central, Duncanville, TX, which offers personal toll-free numbers and voice mail services.

According to U.S. Federal Trade Commission officials, telemarketing regulations do not cover such activities.

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