Texas’ No-call List

Q: I get a lot of phone calls from people asking me to change my long distance service or sell me credit cards. I’ve heard there is now a way to stop such calls. Is this true?

A: The Texas Legislature recently passed HB 472 that provides several important protections for consumers. The law takes effect January 1, 2002.
One of these protections is the Texas no-call list. This list, maintained by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), will contain the names, addresses and phone numbers of consumers who do not want to be contacted by telemarketers.

Consumers can contact the PUC directly to add their names and phone numbers to the list, which will be updated every three months. The PUC may charge fee of up to three dollars for each telephone number you include on the list. Listings will automatically expire after three years, but you may renew your listing for as long as you choose.

After your name has been on the no-call list for 60 days, telemarketers are generally prohibited from calling you. However, there are some exceptions that allow certain telemarketers to call you even if your name is on the no-call list. The no-call provisions do not apply to opinion polls, calls made on behalf of non-profit organizations, and calls requesting political support, as long as no attempt is made to sell you something. The no-call provisions also do not apply to companies with which you have had a business relationship in the past 12 months.

However, if you receive a telephone solicitation from someone covered by one of the exemptions, you can ask the telemarketer to put you on that company’s no-call list.

For more information on the no-call list, contact the PUC at (888) 782-8477 (936-7150 in Austin) or visit its Web site at www.puc.state.tx.us.

Q: I also get unsolicited faxes sent to my home. Will the new law stop this?

A: federal law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act already prohibits unsolicited faxes. HB 472, which takes effect January 1, 2002, creates additional protections against fax advertisements sent within the State of Texas. Under HB 472, all fax solicitations sent in Texas must have a cover page giving the complete name and street address of the person or business that sent the fax. The cover page must also include a toll-free or local phone number where you can call during business hours to be removed from the solicitation list.

Once you call and ask to have your fax number removed, the person who sent the solicitation has 24 hours to send you a letter or fax acknowledging your request. After that, that person may send no other messages to your fax machine.

Q. Who do I complain to if a telemarketer keeps calling me or faxes after I sign up for the no-call list?

A: You may file a complaint against a telemarketer or the sender of a fax solicitation by calling my consumer protection hotline toll-free inside Texas at (800) 621-0508 to request a complaint form. You can also file a complaint online by visiting the consumer protection section of my Web site, at www.oag.state.tx.us. If the complaint involves a provider of long distance phone services, you may want to contact the PUC first.

In the case of unsolicited faxes, you can also file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. You can get more information through their Website at www.ftc.gov.