FTC Proposes Higher Fees for Access to National DNC

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The Federal Trade Commission proposed an annual $29 per area code fee Friday for telemarketers to access the national no-call registry, more than double the rate originally proposed last year.

Telemarketers would have access to five area codes for free and pay a maximum of $7,250 annually under the FTC's new proposal. The original rate proposed by the FTC was five area codes for free, $12 per area code after that for a full year and $6 for a half year, with a cap of $3,000 annually.

Under the proposal, third-party telemarketing service providers -- those who sell products for clients and do not sell products on their own -- would not be required to pay a fee for access to the list. The FTC would require the product merchant to pay the fee, upon which the merchant would be assigned an account number that it could distribute to its telemarketing service providers and list brokers for scrubbing.

In addition, the FTC proposal would allow organizations exempt from the national no-call list, such as charities, the option of accessing the list for customer service purposes. However, use of the list for purposes other than list scrubbing would be banned.

The FTC announcement commenced a public comment period on the proposal that ends May 1, after which the commission will make a ruling. Comments can be submitted electronically at feerule@ftc.gov.

Telemarketers would be required to access the list for the first time between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30. Enforcement would begin Oct. 1.

The fee increase reflects a rise in the FTC's estimated cost of launching the national no-call registry. When it announced its intention to create the registry in January 2002, the FTC's original cost estimate was $5 million in the first year and $3 million yearly thereafter. The FTC has since revised its estimate of the registry's first-year cost to $18.1 million.

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