North Carolina Department of Justice
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Prerecorded political robo calls must stop, says AG Cooper

Release date: 11/21/2006

Cooper wants to see calls covered by Do Not Call Registry, asks state party leaders to meet

Raleigh: North Carolinians should be able to put a stop to unwanted political prerecorded telemarketing calls, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.

“The Do Not Call Registry ought to apply to these prerecorded political calls as well,” said Cooper. “People who’ve made it clear that they don’t want to get telemarketing calls should be free from these interruptions.”

Cooper helped push through the Do Not Call Registry in 2003 to help North Carolina consumers cut down on unwanted telemarketing calls. North Carolina consumers who join the Registry are protected by both state and federal laws, but those laws exclude political calls. Cooper would like to see prerecorded political calls covered by the Registry.

During the recent election campaigns, hundreds of consumers called Cooper’s office to complain about political “robo calls,” which are prerecorded telephone calls made by campaigns using automated dialers.

“People told us that the phone rang nonstop before the election,” said Cooper. “It’s frustrating to have your phone line tied up by these unwelcome interruptions, particularly when you’ve signed up for the Do Not Call Registry.”

Under state law, political campaigns making prerecorded calls are required to identify who is making the call, the nature of the call, and provide contact information for the group or campaign that makes the call. Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division today wrote to leaders of the state Democratic and Republican parties to ask them to meet to discuss these requirements and to look for ways to make sure that candidates follow the law.

“While we continue to evaluate the complaints we received, we trust you agree that a discussion of the requirements of North Carolina law and ways to educate candidates and campaigns about the law would be productive,” wrote Assistant Attorney General David Kirkman in the letter.

To protect themselves from unwanted commercial telemarketing calls, Cooper reminded North Carolinians that they can continue to sign up for the Do Not Call Registry. Close to 4 million North Carolina numbers have been placed on Registry since 2003. North Carolina consumers can add their home and mobile telephone numbers to the list by going to www.ncdoj.gov or calling 1-888-382-1222 from the number they wish to register.

To report telemarketers that break the law, consumers can call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within the state or go to www.ncdoj.gov to fill out a Do Not Call complaint form. When filing a complaint about a telemarketer, consumers should provide their name and address, the date and approximate time of the call, their telephone number that the telemarketer called, and the company’s name and/or telephone number.

Cooper’s office has taken action against dozens of companies that have violated Do Not Call laws, winning settlements and judgments of nearly $1 million against violators.