MCI to Pay $100,000 Indiana No-Call Penalty

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MCI WorldCom will pay $100,000 to settle complaints that the telecommunications company violated Indiana's no-call law, the state attorney general's office said yesterday.

The fine is the largest imposed since Indiana's no-call law took effect in January 2002, according to the attorney general. The office received 90 consumer complaints about MCI telemarketing calls in about two years.

In addition to paying the penalty, MCI promised to abide by the state's no-call law in the future and keep up to date with the state's growing no-call list.

An MCI spokeswoman said the illegal calls were due to an "implementation error" in the company's compliance program in the state. She said MCI cooperated fully with the attorney general's office but declined to give further details about the nature of the error.

"MCI takes compliance with state requirements very seriously," the spokeswoman said. "We have many practices in place to ensure such compliance."

Indiana's no-call law differs from the national no-call law, according to the state attorney general's Web site. Though it exempts real estate and insurance agents, charities that do telemarketing in-house and newspapers, it contains no exemption for existing business relationship calls. Federal law allows calls to consumers to whom a telemarketer has made a sale within the past 18 months.

Last week, MCI cited national and state no-call lists when it announced that it would close three call centers and reduce staff at three others, cutting a total of 4,000 workers, or 7 percent of its workforce. MCI said the action was necessary due to the proliferation of no-call lists as well as "ongoing telecom market trends."

MCI is the No. 2 long-distance carrier in the United States. It declared bankruptcy in June 2002, listing debt of $65 billion and facing charges of $11 billion in fraudulent accounting.

Indiana's no-call list has about 1.5 million telephone numbers. The state has assessed $413,825 in civil penalties under the no-call law and entered settlements with 141 telemarketers since the list took effect.

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