Michigan Attorney General, AARP Join to Oppose Telemarketing Calls

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Michigan attorney general and privacy advocate Jennifer Granholm yesterday participated in a "reverse boiler room" to promote her joining with the state chapter of AARP in a partnership to oppose telemarketing calls.

The "reverse boiler room," as it was dubbed by Granholm's office, was a one-day event conducted in Lansing, MI. The Michigan AARP conducts the events periodically to advise consumers about aggressive telemarketing tactics, the attorney general's office said.

Granholm joined AARP volunteers to call seniors and offer tips on reducing telemarketing calls. Approximately 2,500 seniors, all of whom were AARP members, received calls.

The Michigan attorney general's office said, "Many telemarketers employ a 'boiler room' setting in which numerous telephone operators make constant calls to consumers in an attempt to sell merchandise." The term "boiler room" typically is used to refer to illicit and possibly fraudulent telemarketing operations.

At the event, Granholm announced two new services for use by Michigan consumers upset about receiving telemarketing calls. One allows consumers to fill out a form to record the time and date on which they requested that a specific company place them on its do-not-call list.

The other service allows consumers to fill out a form in order to file complaints against companies that have violated their DNC requests. While Michigan does not have a statewide DNC list, federal law prohibits companies from calling consumers who have requested not to be called by specific companies.

The forms are available at the Michigan attorney general's Web site. AARP is providing the forms to its members and other consumers at its offices in Lansing and Detroit.

The new services allow consumers to record evidence for use in future legal proceedings should a DNC request violation occur. In the case of alleged violations, the attorney general's office will contact telemarketers on behalf of consumers but cannot take legal action.

Under federal law, consumers must sue telemarketers to collect damages on DNC violations. Granholm said she would work to pass a DNC list law in Michigan while at the same time prosecuting telemarketers who violate existing rules.

"Without a strong, state-based do-not-call list, we're fighting with one hand tied behind our backs, but we're not willing to give up the battle," Granholm said. "To be truly successful, we need consumers to be actively engaged."

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