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November 2002
Wisconsin "Do Not Call" List is Underway

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 are seeking
charitable donations. Therefore, be aware there are a few telemarketers who legally may call you even if you are on the “Do Not Call” list.
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 a law.
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.

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