More than 72,000 companies have paid more than $580,000 to learn that Missouri means business when it warns against telemarketing calls to people who have indicated they don't want the calls.
"We do mean business," said Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, who was in Cape Girardeau Monday to discuss the state's No Call list, which protects more than 980,000 residential phone lines.
Cape Girardeau County has the largest percentage of home phones on the No Call list that went into effect last July 1, said Nixon.
"More than a third of the county's residential phone lines are on the list," he said.
Thirty-one percent of telephone subscribers in Stoddard County are on the No-Call list, and 27 percent of telephone users are on the list in Scott and Madison counties.
Elsewhere, the percentage drops -- to only 10 percent in Ripley County, 12 percent in Pemiscot, and 17 percent in Bollinger and Dunklin counties.
Nixon is on a statewide tour to encourage telephone users to sign up if they want to decrease the number of telemarketing calls they receive.
"As we approach a million phone lines on the list, some speculation has started about where in Missouri that millionth phone line will come from," said Nixon.
"Missourians from all corners of the state are enjoying more privacy and protection that the No Call list provides," he said. "We're looking into adding some new businesses on the list." Currently, banks, telephone companies, credit card companies and some pollsters are not on the list, said Nixon.
As the no-call law nears its first anniversary, more than 7 million people nationally have signed onto no-call lists in more than 15 states.
"We still receive a lot of complaints," said Nixon. The department has received about 21,000 complaints this year, but that's down from more than 90,000 complaints at the same time two years ago."
Many of the complaints, said Nixon, were against telephone companies and credit card companies, which are exempt from the law.
A recent survey, by the American Association of Retired Persons, revealed that 84 percent of Missourians not on a list would like to be registered. The two main reasons listed for not being registered are that consumers did not know about the list or they did not know how to register.
"Signing up is quick, simple and free," said Nixon. "Just call our office, 1 (866) 662-2551, or click on our Web site, www.moago.org. The list has prevented millions of unwanted calls," he said.
One of the largest settlements since the law went into force was that against "Miss Cleo." Access Resource Services Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which advertises psychic services through a spokeswoman known as Miss Cleo was ordered to pay $75,000 for making telemarketing calls to Missourians who have their phone numbers on the state's list.
Under the court order, Miss Cleo will obtain a copy of Missouri's No Call list -- now containing more than 988,000 telephone numbers representing some 2.5 million Missourians.