By Christopher Walker. The Federal Trade Commission has proposed changes to its Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) that include the creation of a national do-not-call registry. Such a registry could potentially make it illegal for some home improvement companies to call past customers and other leads who are on the registry and who haven't given consent to be called.

According to the proposal, companies would be fined as much as $11,000 for making unsolicited telemarketing calls to homes listed on the registry. The TSR defines telemarketing as "... a plan, program, or campaign which is conducted to induce purchases of goods or services ... by use of one or more telephones and which involves more than one interstate telephone call." Companies that make calls within their state only would not be affected.

Consultant Dave Yoho issued a "news release" to his home improvement clients last spring identifying the proposed rule change as a "critical issue which may affect your business." Yoho's clients are primarily single-line home improvement contractors.

The proposed registry has wide popular appeal but staunch opposition from trade groups like the American Teleservices Association and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), who argue the rule would hurt the economy and drive up unemployment. "The proposed changes would especially hurt employment of minorities and women," says DMA president and CEO H. Robert Wientzen in a press release. He also states the rule would "cripple the ability of non-profit organizations to raise funds."