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AT&T accused of 78 violations of don't-call rule

The Federal Communications Commission wants to fine AT&T $780,000 for violating the government's telemarketing rules.

In an order released Monday, the commission said AT&T made telephone calls to 29 consumers on 78 separate occasions after those consumers had asked AT&T not to call them again.

AT&T had "apparently violated the FCC's company-specific do-not-call rule," which has been in effect for years, long before the National Do-Not-Call Registry went into effect last month, the commission said, imposing a $10,000 fine for each call made.

The FCC said it had begun investigating AT&T several months ago, after receiving more than 300 complaints.

AT&T, the nation's largest long-distance company, denied the allegations and said it would challenge the fine.

Coincidentally, it is an AT&T subsidiary that is running the new national do-not-call list that is being managed by the Federal Trade Commission.

"AT&T had the best proposal at the best price," said Eileen Harrington, the FTC official who was in charge of developing the national do-not-call list, last spring after a Freedom of Information Act request by the Washington Post revealed that more complaints were lodged against AT&T's telemarketing practices than any other long-distance firm.

"The irony of the fact that it was an AT&T subsidiary that won the contract was not lost on us," Harrington said.

More than 50-million phone lines have been registered to the national antitelemarketing registry that went into effect in early October. Both the FTC and FCC said they are investigating the thousands of complaints that have been posted by consumers but it could be several weeks before any action is taken for making calls to numbers on that list.

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