Loophole around Do Not Call list

February 11, 2008 7:11:23 PM PST
The national Do Not Call list registry was set to expire soon, but both the House and Senate have voted to make it permanent. A bill is now sitting on the President's desk and it's expected he will sign it into law. That's the good news. Now here's the bad news.

Businesses have figured out how to get around the Do Not Call law. There is a loophole, some are wiggling through it and that's causing phones all over the Bay Area to ring. Here is how this loophole works and how you can avoid being taken in.

Arnold Lamb showed us how he goes about bringing in the mail each day. Why? Because interestingly enough, that's where the Do Not Call loophole begins, at the mail box and in your daily stack of junk mail.

"What made you decide to send me the postcard?" asked Michael Finney. "It pissed me off. I said it is right up Michael Finney's alley," said Arnold Lamb, Santa Rosa resident.

The postcard Arnold Lamb received says, "Important law changes." It goes on to say, "New laws make tax breaks and safe savings plans available for seniors. If you are a U.S. citizen, 60 or over, you can request free information."

"It was clearly not from anybody. It was just talking about all the terrific deals. I know enough about taxes because I do my own taxes with Turbotax. I knew, what the hell are they talking about? This can't be. This is, this is a come on," said Arnold Lamb.

Arnold figured it was a sales pitch for annuities and he's right, but there is so much more going on here.

At the bottom of the card it states "Area code and phone number ensures proper routing."

"Yes, there will be plenty of unwanted phone calls routed directly to you," said Joe Rideout with Consumer Action. Rideout said once a consumer mails in the card a loophole opens allowing phone calls to be made even if the consumer is on the Do Not Call list.

"Responding to this kind of solicitation really opens a Pandora's box of unwanted calls and mailings that you probably don't want in the first place," said Rideout.

Could that be true? We contacted the company that sent out this card, Premier Annuity Prospects, and were told, "It doesn't matter if the person is on the Do Not Call list or not because they gave us their name and telephone number."

And that's true.

"The problem is by giving them this information you have said to them, 'We now have a business relationship,' and under an existing business relationship they can contact you even if you are signed up for the Do Not Call registry," said Beth Givens who heads up the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

"I've seen a lot of junk mail that gets mailed to me and that one looked different," said Lamb.

So they aren't allowed to call unless you ask them too and if you send in one of these cards, you are asking them to. So don't respond. After checking in with Len Tillem's law office, we were told there is no recent change in law. This postcard scam is not illegal, it is just trickery.