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States spare residents from telemarketers

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Every time Rosie Heard hung up the phone last week, it seemed, the receiver started ringing again. Call after call after call. All from strangers. All wanting to talk her ear off about some new offer.

But Ms. Heard was no target for telemarketers. Quite the opposite, in fact.

She's an administrative assistant for the state of Missouri, and she was responding to consumers excited about the state's new "no call" law, which promises to free home phones from telemarketers.

"The phone has been ringing off the hook, and we're getting a ton of e-mails," she says. "People in bordering states are calling wanting to know if they can get it, too. I'm getting a real geography lesson."

For people tired of racing for a ringing phone only to pick up and hear a telemarketer mangle their names, help has arrived. Last week, Missouri joined a growing list of states that let consumers put their names on a do-not-call list for telemarketers.

In a signal of how unpopular telemarketing has become among Americans, momentum for similar bills has built quickly nationwide. Seven states have passed no-call laws this year, bringing the total number to 13. Twenty-seven others are considering similar legislation.

Catching on

Here in Missouri, Heard and others logged 110,000 sign-ups during the first week of registration.

One of them was Debra Baldwin. The Catawissa, Mo., homemaker says she gets as many as five calls a day.

"Daytime, nighttime, dinnertime - I even got one last Sunday," she says. "It's so annoying. I've tried to tell them, 'Please take me off your list,' and I end up spending another half hour on the phone verifying personal information for some form they have."

It was stories like Ms. Baldwin's that led to change in the Show Me State. With technology offering new ways for solicitors to interrupt family time and privacy, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon felt the time was right to propose the no-call law.

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