Too Many Busy Signals

What's less bulky than direct mail but just as likely to surround you with carefully crafted pitches? Answer: computerized machines that can automatically call and relay messages to thousands of telephone owners daily, and facsimile machines that can send reams of information to unsuspecting offices.

Already, 180,000 businesses use automatic-dialing systems to deliver pre- recorded sales pitches to as many as 7 million people each day, according to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and 2 million U.S. offices employ fax machines to transmit more than 30 billion pages of information -- much of it unsolicited -- per year.

Consumers complain...

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