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Taking Calls

Are state and federal laws taking the telephone out of your sales arsenal?

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This story appears in the January 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When you read about the new state laws regulating telemarketing, you probably envision the national firms that are always calling to pitch magazines or time-shares. But small businesses are also affected. If your employees call potential clients trying to drum up business, federal rules require you to maintain a list of customers who don't wish to be called. Laws in your state may also require you to register, post a bond, reconcile your call list with a state no-call list, or not make calls during certain hours. It depends on your state's laws.

Those laws are expanding steadily. While no federal law tailored to telemarketing has been passed since 1994, various state legislatures debated 250 separate bills in 2001 alone. Nineteen states now have state-run no-call lists, including five new states last year (Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Texas and Wisconsin). New laws regulating telemarketing took effect last year in Indiana, Missouri and New York.

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