The Do Not Call List: Has It Stopped Working?

It has happened to you before. You are enjoying time with your family, eating dinner or participating in a business meeting when you phone rings. It is a number that you don’t recognize. It isn’t a local number. It could be from Phoenix, Chicago, Dallas, Cincinnati, or anywhere else for that matter. You think to yourself, “Uncle Joe lives there. Maybe he is trying to get in touch with me about something important. I wonder if he is OK?”  You answer the phone only to hear 3 seconds of silence and an automated voice from “Card Services” that tells you that you can reduce the interest rate that you pay on your credit cards. You are angry that these people have stolen away your time and attention. You may be even more angry when you realize that you paid for their distraction with your limited pool of cell phone minutes. Rightly so.

In recent weeks, the number of these “robocalls” has increased for me. I receive them not only on the home phone, but most often on my cell phone. I probably get 3-4 a week right now. All of the phone numbers associated with me are on the National Do Not Call Registry. Most have been on the list since the day it was available. For those not aware of this list, it is a list maintained by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and is enforced by the  FCC (Federal Communications Commission). It allows people to “opt out” of receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls. Apparently, I’m not the only one having this issue, as you can read here.

National Do Not Call Registry Tidbits

  • Adding your number to the registry is FREE.
  • You should only register numbers that you are personally responsible for. Let family and friends register their own numbers.
  • You may add personal home phone and cellphone numbers to the registry. Business lines and fax lines are not covered by this protection.
  • Once you add a number to the registry, telemarketers have 31 days within which they may still call you without violating the law.
  • Businesses that could show that they have an “established business relationship” with you are exempt from this law. Any interaction with the company or any of its subsidiaries can be considered grounds for establishing this relationship. This loophole has recently been closed by requiring your written permission to receive these types of calls.
  • Your phone number will never expire and need to be re-added to the registry. It will only be removed from the registry if you request it, the phone number is disconnected or reassigned.
  • Through the website, you can verify that your number does appear on the registry.
  • You will never receive a legitimate call from someone offering to add your name to the registry. These calls are a scam. Do not share your personal information with them.

More questions and answers about the National Do Not Call Registry can be found here. On February 15, 2012, the FCC made changes to this law.  Details of the changes can be found here.

Even though you may still get some some of these unwanted calls, it is still a really good idea to register. To register phone numbers, you will fill out a form like the one shown below which can be found online here. You may also call 888-382-1222 to have your phone number added.

National Do Not Call Registry: Register A Phone Number

National Do Not Call Registry: Register A Phone Number

If you do continue to receive these unwanted calls, I urge you to file a complaint for each occurrence. If consumers don’t continue to make some noise and let the FCC know there are problems, they will assume that there aren’t any problems. You can file a complaint directly from the National Do Not Call Registry link above.  The following screen captures show the information that will be requested when you file a complaint.

National Do Not Call Registry: Complaint Screen 1

National Do Not Call Registry: Complaint Screen 1

National Do Not Call Registry: Complaint Screen 2

National Do Not Call Registry: Complaint Screen 2

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