AT&T calls may bring fine

AT&T Corp. may be fined $780,000 (U.S.) by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for allegedly violating the commission's do-not-call rules, the first penalty since tougher restrictions on telemarketing took effect Oct. 1.

The Globe and Mail
November 4, 2003

AT&T calls may bring fine
Scott Lanman

WASHINGTON — AT&T Corp. may be fined $780,000 (U.S.) by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for allegedly violating the commission's do-not-call rules, the first penalty since tougher restrictions on telemarketing took effect Oct. 1.

AT&T, the largest U.S. long-distance phone company, made solicitation calls to 29 consumers on 78 occasions after those people had asked that Bedminster, N.J.-based AT&T not call them again, the FCC said in a statement. That would violate a rule saying telemarketers must remove a telephone number from their solicitation list on the consumer's first request.

The proposed fine would be the first "major" do-not-call enforcement action, the FCC said in the statement.

"This puts telemarketers on notice that we will take all measures necessary to protect consumers who chose to be left alone in their homes," FCC chairman Michael Powell said.

The action is related to the FCC's telemarketing rules established in 1992 and updated last month, not the new national do-not-call registry that includes the numbers of 54.2 million people who signed up. Most commercial telemarketers would face fines for calling any of the phone numbers on that list.

"The FCC is sending a clear signal to companies that when a consumer asks to be put on the do-not-call list, they're going to pay a significant price if they don't honour that request," said Chris Murray, an attorney with Consumers Union in Washington.

AT&T hasn't yet responded to the proposed fine, FCC spokesman Richard Diamond said. After reviewing the company's answer, the FCC may fine AT&T or reduce or cancel the penalty.

"We have been co-operating with the FCC over the past several months in investigating claims that date well back into 2002," AT&T said in a statement. "We are confident we can persuade the FCC in its fact-finding proceeding that there were not 78 do-not-call violations."

AT&T shares rose 28 cents to $18.87 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading yesterday.


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