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Sprint to cash in on telemarketers

A new service from the company helps telemarketers avoid steep fines by preventing them from calling people who have signed a "do not call" list.

Sprint Communications is offering a service that helps telemarketers avoid steep fines by preventing them from calling people who have signed a "do not call" list.

The long-distance company plans to announce Wednesday that it's reselling the services of automatic privacy compliance provider Gryphon Networks, alongside long-distance calling plans popular with telemarketers.

Gryphon acts as the telemarketer's virtual police officer. Telemarketers will first dial a toll-free telephone number to get access to Gryphon's database of "do not call" lists, which are continuously being updated. They then enter which numbers are to be dialed. Only calls to telephone numbers not on any of the lists will get through.

Telemarketers are some of Sprint's biggest customers. Both Sprint and Verizon Communications, which on Tuesday announced a similar service using Gryphon, are targeting the 140,000 companies that call about 100 million homes a day soliciting their wares.

Life has become more complicated for telemarketers. In the past five years, 37 states began letting telephone customers put their phone numbers on "do not call" lists. If telemarketers are caught calling, they face stiff penalties and fines. Later this year, a national list, expected to be signed by 60 million people, goes into effect.

Both Sprint and Verizon believe there is revenue to be made by reselling Gryphon's service, which will help telemarketers keep track of who is on such lists, especially as the number of them continues to grow.

"Today's complex regulatory environment has generally outstripped the industry's ability to effectively manage do-not-call requirements without help," Keith Fotta, CEO of Gryphon, said in a statement.

A representative for the Direct Marketing Association, which represents most of the world's telemarketers, was not immediately available for comment.