Telemarketing Forum: DialAmerica President Says Caller ID Needed for Accountability

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WASHINGTON -- Telemarketers need to transmit caller ID information to consumers in order to maintain credibility and keep themselves accountable to the public, Art Conway, president of DialAmerica Marketing, said yesterday.

Conway, speaking at the Federal Trade Commission forum on the Telemarketing Sales Rule, argued that technical problems commonly cited by telemarketers as the reason they cannot transmit caller ID information can be overcome. Telemarketing calls often show up on consumer caller ID boxes as "unavailable," even if the telemarketer is not actively blocking caller ID.

"That's the return address," Conway said of caller ID. "If people want to put in the money to get caller ID, why shouldn't you leave a return address?"

However, others at the meeting said that though the problem with caller ID sometimes originates with the telemarketer, it also can lie with telecommunications providers. If a call sent by a telemarketer crosses any part of a telephone network that cannot carry caller ID on its way to the consumer, the caller ID data is lost.

"The technology is very good technology," said Sid Underwood, director of product design for SBC Communications. "But there are limitations in the network itself."

However, if the FTC makes the rule, telecommunications companies will have to work quickly to bring their equipment into compliance, Conway said. Otherwise, telemarketers will be forced to choose competing telecommunications providers who already have the technology to transmit caller ID.

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