*Despite Legislative Victories, Telemarketers Should Be Wary

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ORLANDO, FL -- Several bills affecting telemarketers died in Congress this year, but the industry cannot afford to let its guard down, Matt Mattingley, director of legislative affairs at the American Teleservices Association, told the organization's membership yesterday at the ATA convention here.


The ATA's efforts this year helped stop legislation that could have negatively affected the industry, Mattingley said. Most recently, the ATA's lobbying efforts helped kill a proposed federal ban on the use of predictive dialers that was attached as an amendment to an unrelated bill in mid-October.


The amendment took the ATA by surprise, Mattingley said. But it was disqualified from a vote on the grounds that the issue was not germane to the bill to which it was attached.


"The intent was to kill predictive dialer technology," Mattingley said. "Happily, the House leadership supported our position."


Two pieces of legislation introduced by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-AZ, failed this year, Mattingley said. The first was the so-called Dinnertime Bill that would have prevented telemarketing calls during the early evening.


That bill gained little support among legislators and is now effectively dead for this year, Mattingley said. More recently, Salmon proposed a piece of legislation that would have forced telemarketers to tell consumers of their right to be placed on a do-not-call list at the beginning of each solicitation call.


The ATA compared this proposed legislation to forcing telemarketers to issue a Miranda warning to consumers. This bill also has not gained enough support to pass, and Salmon has decided not to run for re-election this year, Mattingley said.


One bill that remains before Congress is the Know Your Caller Act, which would forbid telemarketers from blocking caller ID.


The House has passed a version of the bill, but the Senate has not voted on its version.


The Senate's version is broader and does not have the ATA's support, Mattingley said. While the House version makes exceptions for telemarketers that, due to technological issues, cannot display their identification on caller ID, the Senate version would force telemarketers to upgrade their technology.


The ATA has convinced two senators -- Wayne Allard, R-CO, and Zell Miller, D-GA -- to place a hold on the bill and prevent a vote.


These issues could be part of next year's legislative session, Mattingley said.
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