Hanging up on telemarketers

More than 13,000 people in Idaho, tired of unsolicited calls from telemarketers, have registered with the attorney general's "no-call" list.

The service, which is available through the state attorney general's Web site (www.state.id.us/ag) costs $10 to register for the first three years and $5 for the next three years. Subscribers can register as many residential, mobile and pager numbers as they want for the single $10 fee, but business numbers are not allowed by law. Idaho residents can pay with a credit card online or with a check or money order by mail.

Beginning April 1, telemarketing firms will have to ante up $25 each quarter to purchase the "no-call" list, and they will have to use the publication within 30 days. So if residents sign up before March 31, telemarketers may not call them after May 2. The list would be updated quarterly, on the first business day of January, April, July and October.

Telemarketing companies that have an existing business relationship with people and those seeking charitable donations are exempt from using the list.

Scott Somerhalder, general manager of the state portal, Access Idaho, said residents began signing up Jan. 2.

"I was thinking people would take advantage of it and was hoping we'd see a high number of citizens, but 13,000 the first two and half months is unexpected," he said, adding that 60 percent of the total number of subscribers signed up through the portal.

According to the American Teleservices Association, a national group that represents telemarketers, 12 states have passed no-call lists and several more are considering it. Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, and Connecticut offer similar no-call online registry services.

"E-government, at its best, serves the citizens and helps the government become more efficient. It's truly a win-win [situation]," said Chris Neff, senior director of marketing for NIC, an e-government provider that developed the state portal.

Part of the fees collected from residents and telemarketers help pay for the online service.

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