NOTE: The Oregon Department of Justice will continue to prosecute violators of the Oregon No Call law through September 30, 2003. Subscribers whose names appeared on the July 1, 2003 quarterly Oregon No Call List may continue to file complaints against telemarketers through September. To request a No Call complaint form, call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392.
Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the termination of the state's pioneering No Call program effective October 1, 2003 and encouraged Oregonians seeking to avoid unwanted calls from telemarketers to register immediately with the new federal Do Not Call program. The state program will be halted because the Oregon Legislature did not enact key law changes required to avoid federal preemption. As a result, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will effectively pre-empt the state program on October 1. Oregonians currently on only the state list must enroll in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Do Not Call Registry no later than August 31 to ensure a seamless transition between the state and national lists.
"I am very disappointed that we must dismantle one of Oregon's most successful consumer protection initiatives in decades," Myers said. "Our program blazed the path for the federal program. I hope that the federal program is able to duplicate our success. When the Legislature next convenes, I will again urge it to make passage of the needed legislation a top priority so that we can end federal preemption."
The Oregon No Call program was enacted in 1999 and was the third program of its kind in the nation. There are now 26 states with similar laws. Since its inception the program has enjoyed remarkable success. Over 180,000 Oregonians are currently registered and they report that the program halts virtually all unwanted calls. The Oregon Department of Justice has undertaken extensive enforcement efforts resulting in hundreds of settlement agreements and over $500,000 in fines.
In July 2003, the FTC, in conjunction with the FCC, began implementation of the federal Do Not Call registry. Despite extensive efforts by Oregon officials and officials from several other states, the FCC announced that states unable to combine local lists with the national Registry by October 1 would be pre-empted. Oregon law prohibits such a transfer of information. Consequently, Myers sought legislation that, if adopted, would have allowed the state to designate the federal Registry as the state list. The legislation would have integrated the two lists, thereby avoiding federal preemption of the state program and allowing continued enforcement of the state law to protect consumers against unwanted commercial solicitations.
The Attorney General has directed the state program administrator to stop all registration in the state program. The Department is currently working with the administrator to determine if any portion of the registration fees already paid by Oregonians will be refundable.
The federal Do Not Call program becomes operational on October 1. It offers many of the same protections as the Oregon program. Key differences between the programs are:
Under state law, all charitable organizations are required to purchase the list and screen registered names. Federal law allows charitable organizations not contracting with an outside telemarketing vendor to operate without screening names.
Under state law, the program did not apply to any business with which the consumer had a pre-existing relationship. Under federal law, this exemption applies only to business-to-consumer relationships established within an eighteen-month window.
Under state law, the Oregon Department of Justice may recover, through fines, the cost of enforcement. Federal law requires that any fines be redirected to the U.S. government.
Under the Oregon law, the Oregon Department of Justice has taken action on every complaint submitted to the Department alleging a violation of the No Call law. Because the Oregon Department of Justice cannot recover the cost of enforcing the federal law, state enforcement efforts will be significantly reduced. The state will be forced to rely on the enforcement efforts of the FTC except in the most egregious cases.
Oregon law will continue to make it unlawful for a telemarketer to re-contact a consumer if the consumer has told the telemarketer not to call again. Oregon law will also continue to require that a telemarketer identify himself or herself and whom the caller represents, and the purpose of the call, within the first 30 seconds of the call. Violations of these telemarketing laws should be reported to the Oregon Department of Justice.
Oregonians wanting to register for the National Do Not Call Registry may call the FTC's toll free number at 1-888-382-1222, TTY 1-866-290-4236, or register online at DONOTCALL.GOV. Registration is free. Registration with the national program is valid for five years, and consumers may register up to three residential or cellular phone numbers. Consumers must register by August 31to be included on the October 1 federal list.
Consumers wanting more information about Oregon's No Call Law and other consumer protection issues may call the Oregon Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. The Oregon Department of Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.