DMA Faults 2 Groups Over Privacy Promises

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The Direct Marketing Association criticized two organizations yesterday over their promises to take consumers off telemarketing and mailing lists.

In its ethics case report for the second half of 2002, the DMA Committee on Ethical Business Practice singled out No More Mail of Wheeling, IL, and Operation Hang-Up of Washington. The DMA said the two organizations misled consumers about the effectiveness of private name-removal services.

No More Mail claimed on its Web site,, that consumers who registered would be removed from specific mailing and telemarketing lists, according to the DMA. The organization altered its service agreement to indicate that it could not guarantee marketers would honor its removal requests, but the DMA committee held that the new disclosure was not made prominently enough to resolve its concerns.

Operation Hang-Up charged consumers a $29 fee to "stop telemarketing calls, guaranteed," and sent removal requests with lists of consumer names to companies and nonprofits. The committee reported the organization to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service after it failed to respond to concerns that its claims were deceptive, the DMA said.

Offers for name-removal services have been rising, the DMA said. Contrary to claims often made by such services, marketers are not obligated to honor third-party name-removal requests, the DMA said.

Privacy advocates, some of whom offer name-removal services of their own, dispute the DMA's position and claim that their own clients have won thousands of dollars in settlements and court judgments from telemarketing companies.

DMA ethics and consumer affairs staff handled 1,055 complaints and inquiries from consumers during the second half of 2002. In that period, the committee reviewed a total of 30 cases.

No other companies or organizations were named in the report.

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