FCC: AT&T Fails to Honor No-Call Requests

The Federal Communications Commission said yesterday that it would seek a $780,000 fine against AT&T on allegations that the long-distance provider failed to honor no-call requests from consumers. However, the complaint is unrelated to the new national no-call registry.

Company-specific no-call rules in place for a decade require telemarketers to maintain suppression lists of consumers who ask them specifically to cease solicitation calls. The FCC alleges that AT&T made 78 calls to 29 consumers who had asked the company to stop calling them. The FCC will seek $10,000 in fines for each call.

“Today's enforcement action demonstrates our resolve in the fight to protect consumers from unwanted and intrusive telephone calls,” FCC chairman Michael Powell said in a statement. “This puts telemarketers on notice that we will take all measures necessary to protect consumers who chose to be left alone in their homes. Together with our partners at the Federal Trade Commission, we will remain vigilant to ensure that telemarketers respect the wishes of consumers.”

AT&T Government Solutions, a subsidiary of AT&T, is the private contractor in charge of providing the backbone technology for the national no-call list being run by the Federal Trade Commission.

In response, AT&T issued a statement saying that it had not seen the FCC's complaint but that it had cooperated with the agency during the past several months in investigating consumer complaints dating to 2002. According to the FCC, a review of the agency's consumer complaint data triggered the investigation after finding more than 300 no-call complaints from consumers during the past several months.

“We are confident we can persuade the FCC in its fact-finding proceeding that there were not 78 do-not-call violations,” AT&T said. “We set a very high priority on respecting do-not-call requests and have even urged our customers to sign up for the FTC do-not-call list.”

In its statement, AT&T said the FCC complaint involves customers who thought they were on its company-specific suppression list and later received a call they thought was from AT&T.

Though the company-specific rules have been in place since 1992, the FCC said the complaint was its “first major do-not-call enforcement action.”

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