Time Again to Sign up
for the Wisconsin “Do Not Call” Telemarketer Registry
More than 1.5 million Wisconsin
residents have signed up for the state’s “Do Not
Call” telemarketer registry, according to the Wisconsin
Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection.
The free registry, which became effective on January 1, 2003,
requires consumers to re-register for the list every two years.
For many consumers, that time is now. There are two primary
ways to re-register, including: (1) visiting the Wisconsin No
Call List website at https://nocall.wisconsin.gov/web/home.asp,
or (2) calling 1-866-9NO-CALL (1-866-966-2255) toll-free in
Wisconsin. If you don’t re-register, your name will be
removed from the list and telemarketers will once again be able
to call you.
To date, more than 5,000 consumers
have contacted the Department to complain about telemarketers
violating the law. A number of these complaints have resulted
in court cases being brought by the department and the Wisconsin
Department of Justice against problem telemarketers who are
calling consumers even though they are on the “Do Not
Call” list. According to department spokesperson Glen
Loyd, the average penalty paid by these telemarketers is $149
per call. The largest penalty paid to date is $55,975 for 375
illegal calls made by Soho Marketing of Irvine, California.
The registry and its penalty provisions
are likely to become the topic of a very active legislative
debate when the 2005 Wisconsin Legislature convenes next January.
You may have recently heard that a Dane County Circuit Court
judge ruled that the department overstepped its authority by
setting a maximum $10,000-per-illegal-call fine in its administrative
rules rather than setting the maximum penalty at $100. This
lower amount was set in the law, according to the judge, when
Governor Scott McCallum vetoed the higher $10,000 penalty passed
by the Legislature when he crossed out two of the zeros in that
Now, Senator Jon Erpenbach (D–Middleton)
and State Rep. Suzanne Jeskewitz (R–Menomonee Falls) have
indicated they will introduce legislation to once again place
the higher $10,000-per-violation penalty amount in the law.
Rep. Jeskewitz recently argued in a press release, “The
only way to make this law pack a punch to companies refusing
to obey is to hit them in the bank account.” Also, according
to press reports, Governor Doyle agrees that the $100 penalty
is too low.
On the other hand, several business
groups including the Wisconsin Realtors Association, the Wisconsin
Newspaper Association, and the Wisconsin Association of Health
Underwriters argue that the higher penalty hurts small businesses
and that lawyers would be more inclined to file costly private
lawsuits if the potential penalty is once again increased to
$10,000 per violation.
What do you think? If you have
an opinion on the Do Not Call list’s penalties, don’t
be afraid to let your state legislative candidates know your
position when they ask you for your vote. You can also call
your state legislators tollfree at 1-800-362-9472. And don’t
forget to re-register if you want to be kept on the state’s
“Do Not Call” telemarketer registry.