7 Things You Need to Know About the ‘Do Not Call’ RegistryFebruary 26, 2016
Sick of having dinners, conversations, or sleep disrupted by telemarketers? Sign up for the “Do Not Call” (DNC) Registry.
You’ve just settled on your couch with a good book, and the phone rings—before you know it a telemarketer is talking your ear off about a service or product that you neither want nor need. Unsolicited telemarketing calls are an annoyance felt by countless Americans. Luckily, there is a service known as the “Do Not Call Registry” that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allows you to sign up for.
A few things you should now about DNC Registry
The Do Not Call or DNC Registry is a free service that makes it illegal for telemarketers to contact you. Protecting yourself from unsolicited interruptions to your daily grind depends on following a few rules and exceptions under the DNC Registry, however.
- Your number stays on the DNC registry until you cancel your registration or discontinue service.
- If you keep the same phone number after a move within the same geographic area, you probably won't need to re-register with the FTC. Such "ported" numbers are removed from the DNC list only if both the address and name on the account change.People who move and retain the same phone number may need to re-register if they also change names (i.e. newlyweds).
- Businesses are supposed to reference the DNC registry before calling a personal phone number and remove registered numbers from their calling lists (unless the caller qualifies for an exemption).
- To access the registry, businesses must pay $60 per area code for 2015 and 2016, but the first five area codes are available for free to provide relief to smaller businesses and startups. Accessing the entire DNC list is $16,482 in 2015 and 2016.
- Failure to follow the DNC rules could result in consumer complaints, FTC investigations and fines of up to $16,000 per call. Wrongdoers also may be required to pay redress to injured consumers.
- For those who only use a cell phone, you’re in luck—well, kind of. The FCC prohibits telemarketers from making calls to cellphones, but exempt organizations are still able to access your cell phone number to solicit information.
- Technological advances have made telemarketing campaigns cheaper and easier to implement. Most telemarketers routinely use automatic telephone dialing systems or prerecorded messages (commonly referred to as "robocalls"), instead of calling consumers directly.
Are there any instances where telemarketers can call you even if you’re on the DNC list?
- Established business relationship- Telemarketers can legitimately call people on the DNC registry if they can prove an "established business relationship." Relationships that meet this exception include:
- Existing customers. Consumers who purchase, rent or lease goods or services from the specific seller (or engage in a financial transaction with the seller) within the 18 months immediately preceding the date of a telemarketing call.
- Prospective customers. Consumers who inquire about or apply for a product or service offered by the specific seller within the three months immediately preceding the date of a telemarketing call.
- Some companies try to exploit the established business relationship exception. For example, lead generators may try to find customers who are interested in a product or service through Web advertisements, free offers or cold calling campaigns. Then they may sell customer information to other companies who sell similar products and services.
- Exempt Organizations- Some organizations are exempt from the government's DNC rules, including:
- Charities or certain not-for-profit organizations,
- Organizations engaged in political solicitations or surveys, or
- Sellers or telemarketers that have an "established business relationship" or have obtained the express written agreement to call a customer on the DNC registry.
However, when exempt organizations make calls to phone numbers on the list, it can create "bad will" for the organization making the call. For this reason, the FTC allows exempt organizations to access the DNC registry for free.
Visit the registry at www.donotcall.gov or call (888) 382-1222 from the phone number you're registering if you’d like to register your phone number for the DNC list or to verify that your number is already listed. Expect a high volume of calls this summer and fall due to the upcoming election—as mentioned above, these calls are exempt from the DNC.
IMPORTANT NOTE**, The FTC warns not to interact in any way if you receive an illegal call on a registered phone line. You will end up receiving more unwanted calls if you press buttons to be taken off the call list or to talk to an actual person. Instead, hang up and file a complaint immediately. Complaints may be filed online, by phone or by mail with either the FTC or Federal Communications Commission (for illegal calls to cell phones).