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Attorney General Marty Jackley

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Attorney General Jackley Joins Other Attorneys General in Fight Against Robo-calls to Cell Phones

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :     Wednesday, December 7, 2011
CONTACT: Sara Rabern,  (605) 773-3215

Attorney General Jackley Joins Other Attorneys General in Fight Against Robo-calls to Cell Phones

PIERRE, S.D.- Attorney General Marty Jackley today joined other attorneys general in requesting Congress to oppose legislation targeting consumers’ telephone privacy.  The “Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011” [H.R. 3035] would amend the Communications Act of 1934 and allow for robo-calling to all cell phones, leaving consumers to foot the bill. This legislation would allow debt collectors and other businesses to place automated “informational” calls to cell phones, impacting those who pay by the minute or have a limited number of minutes available.

In addition, since businesses frequently have the wrong contact information, consumers could be getting and paying for repeated robo-calls on their cell phones for accounts that are not their own.

“This federal legislation will adversely affect South Dakotans’ privacy,” said Jackley. "This legislation would allow robo-call messages to be sent to South Dakotans that do not want these calls and in return require charges. Congress simply needs to hang up on this telephone bill.”

The attorneys general are asking members of Congress to reject U.S. House Resolution 3035. As chief protectors of consumer rights, many State Attorneys General would not be able to enforce their more strict telemarketing state laws.

Currently, federal law allows robo-calls to be placed to people who have given their explicit consent to receive them or in case of an emergency. If this federal legislation passes, the law will be expanded to allow businesses to robo-call any consumer who has provided their telephone number in the course of a transaction – regardless if a consumer asks not to be contacted.

In the letter, officials also pointed out that an increase in calls to mobile phones could present a hazard to drivers who may become distracted. A 2009 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that cell phone use was involved in 995 or 18 percent of fatalities in distraction-related crashes.

Citizens can also voice their opinion on the proposal by contacting their representative or by voting on Popvox’s nonpartisan website Popvox will also forward consumers’ comments to members of Congress.