Politicians exempted from 'National Do Not Call' rules

How do I stop recorded political calls? Yesterday I received one from (Congressman) Greg Walden. On my cell phone. I am not a Republican. Why are these any different than other telemarketing calls?

— Linda D.H., Rogue Valley

No, Linda, political calls are not subject to the "National Do Not Call" rules that were set up to cut down on unwanted telemarketing, which is defined as calls that solicit sales of goods or services.

While some would say politicians provide a service; others would beg to differ. Nevertheless, there are First Amendment reasons involved in not including political calls, and then there's this: The Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2003 was passed by — ta-da — our elected officials in Congress, who likely wanted to preserve their right to pester you.

There are a number of exemptions to the Do Not Call rules. Charities are exempt — but if a third-party telemarketer calls on behalf of a charity and you request that they do not call you again, they can be subjected to a $16,000 fine after subsequent calls.

Telephone surveys also are excluded if they do not offer to sell goods or services after the survey. If they offer to sell goods or services, they, too, must follow the rules of not calling upon request.

A business also is exempt if the recipient of its call has made a purchase or a payment from it within 18 months, although the consumer may ask the company not to call again.

Even if a consumer's business with a company is simply in the form of an inquiry or the submittal of an application, that exempts the business from the telemarketing rule for three months. The company must honor a request not to place a subsequent call or be subject to a fine of up to $16,000.

To be included on the National Do Not Call Registry, call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you wish to register. You can file a complaint or get information by calling 1-877-382-4357 or by going online to www.ftc.gov/donotcall.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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