National Do Not Call Registry

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The National Do Not Call Registry is intended to give U.S. consumers an opportunity to limit the telemarketing calls they receive. To register by telephone (US), consumers may call 1-888-382-1222; or they may register via the web at the DoNotCall.gov registration page. The registry was set to begin in 2003, but a court challenge delayed its implementation until 2004. The law provides exceptions to a blanket do-not-call ruling. Separate laws and regulations apply to robocalls in the United States.

Implementation Act[edit]

On June 27, 2003, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opened the National Do Not Call Registry in order to comply with the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2003 (Public Law No. 108-10, was H.R. 395 of the 108th Congress, and codified at 15 U.S.C. § 6101 et. seq.), sponsored by Representatives Billy Tauzin and John Dingell and signed into law by President George W. Bush on March 11, 2003. The law established the FTC's National Do Not Call Registry in order to facilitate compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.

Registration for the Do-Not-Call list began on June 27, 2003, and enforcement started on October 1, 2003. Since January 1, 2005, telemarketers covered by the registry have up to 31 days (initially the period was 90 days) from the date a number is registered to cease calling that number. Originally, phone numbers remained on the registry for a period of five years, but are now permanent because of the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, effective February 2008.[1]

Wireless phone numbers need not be included on the registry to avoid most unsolicited calls; however, a consumer may add a wireless phone number to the list if he/she wishes to.[2] FCC regulations prohibit telemarketers from calling a cellular phone number with an automatic dialer under all circumstances.[2][3] In 2005, a rumor began circulating via e-mail that cell phone providers were planning on making their number directories available to telemarketers. The FTC responded by clarifying that cell phones cannot be called by telemarketers.[4] Similarly, fax numbers do not need to be included in the registry due to existing federal laws and regulations that prohibit the sending of unsolicited faxes.

If a person does not want to register a number on the national registry, he or she can still prohibit individual telemarketers from calling by asking the caller to put the called number on the company’s do-not-call list.

Legal challenges[edit]

The do-not-call list was slated to take effect on October 1, 2003, but two federal district court decisions almost delayed it. One from Oklahoma was overcome by special legislation giving the FTC specific jurisdiction over the matter. The other from Colorado revolved around questions of regulation of commercial speech and threatened to delay implementation of the list. However, President Bush signed a bill authorizing the no-call list to go ahead in September 2003. Finally, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit on February 17, 2004, upheld the constitutionality of the law.[5]

Exceptions to the do-not-call rule[edit]

Known exceptions[edit]

Placing one's number on the National Do Not Call Registry will stop most, but not all, unsolicited calls. The following are exceptions granted by existing laws and regulations - and these types of organizations can register with donotcall.gov and can purchase telephone lists from the Do Not Call Registry [6]

  • The registry only applies to residential lines, not to business lines.[7]
  • A person may still receive calls from political organizations.
    • The organization Citizens for Civil Discourse has lobbied Congress to close this exception by developing a National Political Do Not Call Registry where voters can register their phone numbers and ask politicians to take the "Do Not Contact Pledge". Its database is not backed by the force of law and as of November 2008, only 3 politicians running for office signed the pledge.[8]
  • A person may still receive calls from not-for-profit organizations.[9]
  • A person may still receive calls from those conducting surveys.
  • A person may still receive calls from companies with which he or she has an existing business relationship for up to 18 months after his or her last purchase, payment, or delivery from it, unless person specifically asks the company not to call again.
  • A person may still receive calls from a company up to 31 days[10] after submitting an application or inquiry to that company, unless the company is specifically asked not to call.
  • A person may still receive calls from bill collectors (either primary creditors or collection agencies). These callers are, however, regulated by other laws, such as those limiting them to calling during "reasonable hours." Some creditors may not call debtors who file for bankruptcy protection.

Loopholes[edit]

Some attempts have been made by telemarketers to skirt the do-not-call list rules. An example is the Dove Foundation which places "survey" calls and then requests permission for a follow-up call. The follow-up call is conducted by a for-profit company attempting to sell products. This operation resulted in a restraining order in Missouri in March 2006.[11]

Enforcement[edit]

Complaints concerning telemarketing calls to homes and personal cell phones can be made to the Federal Communications Commission[12] and the Federal Trade Commission.[13]

The Federal Communications Commission has created rules implementing the National Do-Not-Call Implementation Act. These rules are codified at the Code of Federal Regulations, title 47, Section 64.1200.[14] The rules should be consulted in order to determine whether a particular incident violated the rules and can result in enforcement.

In order to create an actionable complaint pursuant to FCC rules, an individual with a home phone or a personal cell phone is required to specify details of the infraction to the FCC. Typically this includes facts such as when the call occurred, the phone number called, the calling organization, the goods or services being marketed, whether the caller has any exemption status. Details of these rules can be found on the FCC's complaint form.[12]

Many journalists and victims of fraudulent calls and Do-Not-Call violations have extensively documented ongoing and widespread inaction and lack of enforcement by the FTC.[15]

Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007[edit]

On February 15, 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law the H.R Bill 3541: Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007. Two major changes were enacted through this law:

  • While originally required to renew their phone numbers every five years, consumers need now only register once to maintain their phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.
  • The frequency with which the FTC must purge the registry of disconnected and reassigned numbers has also been increased to several times a month. However, the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act prohibits removing numbers from the do-not-call registry unless the number is invalid, disconnected, or reassigned; or the individual to whom the number is assigned so requests.[16]

Results[edit]

According to the 2009 Economic Report of the President, prepared by the Council of Economic Advisors,

The program has proved quite popular: as of 2007, according to one survey, 72 percent of Americans had registered on the list, and 77 percent of those say that it made a large difference in the number of telemarketing calls that they receive (another 14 percent report a small reduction in calls). Another survey, conducted less than a year after the Do Not Call list was implemented, found that people who registered for the list saw a reduction in telemarketing calls from an average of 30 calls per month to an average of 6 per month.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ FTC Press Release 2008: Do Not Call Registrations Permanent and Fees Telemarketers Pay to Access Registry Set
  2. ^ a b Truth About Wireless Phones and the National Do-Not-Call List
  3. ^ FTC Press Release 2007: The Truth about Cell Phones and the Do Not Call Registry
  4. ^ FTC Press Release 2005: The Truth about Cell Phones and the National Do Not Call Registry
  5. ^ Mainstream Marketing Services Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
  6. ^ FTC application to purchase numbers from the Do Not Call list
  7. ^ FTC Do-Not-Call Q&A
  8. ^ Citizens for Civil Discourse
  9. ^ Consumer Fact Sheet on FCC Do-Not-Call Rules, Federal Communications Commission
  10. ^ [1] GAO Report on Implementation of the National Do-Not-Call Registry, Jan. 2005 [2] www.donotcall.gov; The original 2003 rule had a 3-month waiting period, but this was changed effective 1-Jan-2005.
  11. ^ Company selling films used non-profit organization as front to try to circumvent state No Call law, Nixon says
  12. ^ a b FCC CGB General Complaints Form 475
  13. ^ FTC National Do Not Call Registry, File a Complaint
  14. ^ 47 CFR § 64.1200
  15. ^ Forbes investigation of Diabetes scams and Do-Not-Call violations
  16. ^ http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-3541
  17. ^ 2009 Economic Report of the President, Box 9-1

External links[edit]