State offers telemarketer repellent

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

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Wisconsin recently became the latest state to install a telemarketer no-call

solution, in which residents can be registered as requesting no telephone

solicitations be made to them.

Such solicitations are the reason for increasing citizen complaints.

Telemarketing lands "in our top 10 list of complaints" every year, said

Fran Tryon, Wisconsin's consumer protection administrator.

More than half of the states already have legislation requiring such

no-call services. GovConnect Inc., which will host the Wisconsin service,

already supplies solutions to Ohio and Kansas, and is pursuing three to

five similar deals, said Jeff Ficke, the company's senior vice president

for new market strategy.

"We've supplied self-service citizen access programs to governments

for the past 10 years, so this seemed a natural fit to that vertical market,"

he said.

While some of the details can differ depending on the particulars of

a state's law, programs typically require citizens to register their no-call

requests via the Web or using an interactive voice response system.

The GovConnect system then compiles and distributes a database of the

barred phone numbers to solicitors on a quarterly basis.

Presently, if people who register continue to get solicitation calls,

they complain to the responsible state agency, which then follows up with

the solicitor. In the future, the GovConnect's solution will have some ability

to automatically handle such complaints also.

The technology part of the solution is relatively easy to deploy, Ficke

said. The harder part comes in building reports and managing distribution

to the phone solicitors, and then collecting the fees from solicitors who

pay for at least part of the service, he said, adding that some states may

prefer to fund the service internally.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached

at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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