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Public Sends a Message: Don't Call

Nearly 1 million callers register their phone numbers -- and their desire to turn away telemarketers.

June 28, 2003|Marisa Lagos | Times Staff Writer

Americans sick of dinnertime sales pitches flocked to a new national registry Friday to block their phone numbers from telemarketers.

The Federal Trade Commission's "do-not-call" list was expected to log nearly 1 million numbers in its first day. Starting in October, registered numbers will be off-limits to most telemarketers, who will face fines of up to $11,000 every time they call a listed number.

"When Americans are sitting down to dinner or a parent is reading to his or her child, the last thing they need is a call from a stranger with a sales pitch," President Bush said in a White House ceremony.

Consumers Union spokesman Michael McCauley called the response a "collective 'enough is enough' from the American public."

The Federal Communications Commission estimates that telemarketers make 104 million calls a day, generating about $700 million a year.

"I hope this really works," said Christine Bonzon, a postdoctoral fellow in San Diego who said she has ended particularly persistent calls with "me screaming and practically cursing."

Said Jim Conway, a vice president of the Direct Marketing Assn.: "We're going to have to change some of our business practices, but we'll survive."

Numbers can be registered at a Web site, www.donotcall.gov, or at a toll-free telephone number, (888) 382-1222.

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