Wisconsin "Do Not Call" List
By now your local newspaper,
television, or radio station has informed you that the Wisconsin
Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP)
is taking consumers’ names for the new Wisconsin “Do
Not Call” telemarketing register. According to DATCP,
more than 623,000 Wisconsin residents have already signed up
to be on the list.
The law was sponsored by Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton)
and was passed as part of the biennial State Budget Act. At
the time of passage, 26 states had already adopted their own
“Do Not Call” telemarketing registries and Senator
Erpenbach had been trying to create a similar Wisconsin list
for several years.
The Wisconsin list differs from the list maintained by most
other states. First, you do not have to pay to be on the list.
In many other states, the consumer is charged a small fee of
between $5 and $10 per year to be on the list. However, state
officials decided it would cost a similar amount to process
each individual check through the state accounting system. Therefore,
the legislation requires telemarketers to annually register
with the state and pay a sliding fee that is based on several
factors, including the number of telemarketing lines they use
in their businesses.
Second, unlike in other states, relatively few Wisconsin telemarketers
are exempted from the law. Businesses calling current clients
or returning a consumer’s call are exempt. Furthermore,
nonprofit organizations generally are also exempted when they
charitable donations. Therefore, be aware there are a few telemarketers
who legally may call you even if you are on the “Do Not
However, the new law covers most telemarketers. As noted, most
states exempt many types of telemarketers from their law based
on a concern that business might be harmed too much by such
Third, the Wisconsin telemarketer fee finances five DATCP enforcement
staff who will investigate violations of the law. If a telemarketer
calls you in violation of the law, DATCP urges you call in toll
free at 1-800-422-7128 to complain. DATCP will likely ask you
to complete a short one-page complaint form. If DATCP determines
your complaint is valid, it could seek substantial civil or
criminal penalties from the telemarketer.
Finally, be aware the “Do Not Call” list does not
take effect until January of 2003, with telemarketer registration
beginning in December 2002. The rules implementing the list
are still being reviewed by the Legislature. However, at press
time for this article, it appeared legislative approval would
be likely before the end of October despite attempts by some
telemarketers to exempt their businesses.
If you haven’t registered to be on the
“Do Not Call” list, you may call the department
toll free at 1-866-966-2255 or go to https://nocall.wisconsin.gov
to register online.