Tiny Connecticut Building Big DNC List

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A recently enacted do-not-call list in Connecticut, which has a population of 3.2 million, is growing to proportions that belie the state's size.

About 328,000 households in the state have registered for the list, according to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. That represents about one of every four of Connecticut's estimated 1.25 million households. The list took effect Jan. 1.

In contrast, neighboring New York, which began registration for its DNC list in October, has signed up about 750,000 individuals, or 4 percent of its 18 million residents. In Idaho, where the DNC list is scheduled to become effective May 2, about 12,600 consumers, or 1 percent of the state's population, have signed up.

Days after registration in Connecticut began in August, the average number of requests received by the Department of Consumer Protection for placement on the DNC list grew to 5,000 a day, said James Fleming, Connecticut's commissioner of consumer protection. Registration is free and available online, over the phone or by mail.

"I put mine on, and it's made a difference," Fleming said. "I don't get as many calls anymore."

Telemarketers face fines of up to $5,000 per violation for infringements against the DNC list, which is published quarterly by the Direct Marketing Association. Calls made by nonprofits and companies tracking down debts are exempt, and all businesses new to Connecticut get to make one phone call to residents when they set up shop in the state.

Unlike most other states with DNC lists, Connecticut contracts with the DMA to maintain its list. The DMA maintains the state's list as part of its Telephone Preference Service.

Telemarketers must buy the entire TPS list, which is available on a quarterly basis for an annual fee of $460. All DMA members that use telemarketing must use the TPS list to maintain their association membership. Maine requires telemarketers to use the DMA's Telephone Preference Service list, and Wyoming recently passed a similar law.

Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs at the DMA, said the organization had not monitored any special problems with telemarketers in Connecticut and could not speculate on why the DNC list was so popular there. Though the DMA opposes state DNC lists, arguing that existing federal telemarketing laws sufficiently protect consumers, it is willing to work with states that pass DNC list laws.

"If a state passes a do-not-call list, our members have to comply with it," Cerasale said. "By having us work with the state, we can assist our members."

Connecticut enacted its own DNC list because federal laws designed to restrain telemarketers were not working, Fleming said. The federal Telephone Sales Rule, which requires telemarketers to maintain their own DNC lists, can be enforced only by a lawsuit filed by a private citizen. Under Connecticut's law, consumers can file a complaint and have the state attorney general take legal action.

Connecticut is one of 13 states that have DNC lists. Several other states, including California and Texas, currently have DNC list bills pending before their state legislatures. In Mississippi and Indiana, DNC list bills have been passed by both houses of the state legislatures and are awaiting finalization before being sent to their respective governors for signing.


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