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Telemarketer challenges state "do-not-call" law

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – A telemarketing firm says federal "do-not-call" laws supercede North Dakota's state law.

FreeEats-dot-com describes itself as a political polling firm. When it makes a call, it plays a recorded message. That's permitted by federal law -- but North Dakota law says a live person must ask permission before the message is played.

FreeEats says the federal law takes precedence. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says that argument concerns him.

"We know, from a recent publlished report, that the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission have received a million complaints, but have prosecuted less than a half a dozen of them," said Stenehjem. "That enforcement ranges from pathetic to non-existent."

Stenehjem says his office has received more than 200 complaints -- and every one is investigated. He says his office has assessed fines and reached settlements with the telemarketers.