National Do Not Call Registry

  • Amy

Do you get annoying calls from telemarketers and not sure how to get rid of them? There is something you can do about it, try adding your number to a national do not call registry and it should decrease your unwanted calls.

How do you put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry?

Register online at donotcall.gov or by calling toll-free 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the number you wish to register. Registration is free.

How does it work?

After you register, you can expect fewer calls within 30 days. If you register online, look out for the confirmation email as you need to complete your registration by clicking on the link in the email within 72 hours after you get it. You can expect fewer calls within 31 days of the date you sign up for the registry. Note, the phone number that you register is the only identifying information that is provided to telemarketers and other companies that use the registry. No other information is shared.

The law requires telemarketers to search the registry every 31 days and avoid calling any phone number on the registry. If you receive telemarketing calls after your telephone number has been in the registry for 31 days, you can file a complaint at donotcall.gov or by calling toll-free 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236). Keep in mind to do so you need to provide the date of the call and the company’s name or phone number. A telemarketer who disregards the National Do Not Call Registry could be fined up to $40,000 for each call.

When did the National Do Not Call Registry take effect?

The Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and the states began enforcing the National Do Not Call Registry on October 1, 2003.

Does the National Do Not Call Registry cover all telemarketing calls?

By registering your number on the National Do Not Call Registry will stop most telemarketing calls, but important to note that this is not for all calls. Calls from or on behalf of political organizations, charities and telephone surveyors are allowed.

Another way businesses get around this is this rule; if you have an established relationship with a business, they can call you for up to 18 months after your last purchase, payment or delivery. So even if your number is on the National Do Not Call Registry, they can still call you if the business relationship exist. If you make an inquiry or submit an application to a company, it can call you for three months afterward. Be careful and read any questionnaires or surveys you do, because they may be an attempt to establish a business relationship. Also be careful to read anything you sign, including sweepstakes forms or requests for “free” products; they may be attempts to get your written permission for future calls.

If you register for the national registry, you can give written permission for a company to call you. Alternately, if you have an established business relationship, you can also ask the company to not to call you. The company must honor your latest request, even if you previously gave written permission.

Another way to prevent calls is by asking each telemarketer to put you on their company’s do not call list. If you do this you should keep a record of the date you make the request.

Although callers who ask for charitable contributions do not have to search the national registry, a for-profit telemarketer calling on behalf of a charitable organization must honor your request not to receive calls on behalf of that charity.

What other protections are there against unwanted telemarketing calls?

  • The TSR prohibits deceptive and abusive telemarketing acts and practices. It establishes standards of conduct for telemarketing calls:
  • Telemarketers can only call you between the hours 8 a.m to 9 p.m. In addition, they must tell you the identity of the seller or charitable organization and that the call is a sales call or a charitable solicitation and must disclose all material information about the goods or services they are offering and the terms of the sale.
  • They are prohibited from lying about any terms of their offer.
  • It’s illegal for a telemarketer to:
    • Ask you to pay with a cash-to-cash money transfer — like those from MoneyGram and Western Union
    • Ask you to pay by giving the PIN from a cash reload card like MoneyPak and Vanilla Reload
    • Ask for your bank account information to create a type of check that you never see or sign. Those checks are called “remotely created payment orders.”

If a telemarketer asks you to use one of these payment methods, they are breaking the law.

If a telemarketer you haven’t done business with calls to ask for your bank account number for any purpose, say “No” and hang up.

  • Restricts unauthorized billing
    • Before they submit your billing information for payment, telemarketers must get your express informed consent to be charged — and to charge a specific account. If a telemarketer has your account information before the call — known as “preacquired account telemarketing” — and offers you goods or services on a free trial basis before charging you automatically, the telemarketer must:
    • get your permission to use a particular account number,
    • ask you to confirm your desire to approve a charge by giving the telemarketer at least the last four digits of the account number, and
    • create an audio recording of the entire phone transaction.
  • Reduces abandoned calls
    • Telemarketers are required to connect their call to a sales representative within two seconds of the consumer’s greeting. This will reduce the number of “dead air” or hang-up calls you get from telemarketers. These calls happen when telemarketers use automatic dialing equipment that reaches many numbers and staff aren’t available to answer all the calls. When that happens, a recorded message must play to let you know who’s calling and the number they’re calling from. The law prohibits a recorded sales pitch in a cold call. To give you time to answer the phone, the telemarketer may not hang up on an unanswered call before 15 seconds or four rings.
  • Requires caller ID transmission
    • Telemarketers must transmit their telephone number and, if possible, their name, to your caller ID service. This protects your privacy, increases accountability on the telemarketer’s part and helps in law enforcement efforts.
  • Reins in Robocalling
    • Most businesses need your written permission before they can call you with prerecorded telemarketing messages known as “robocalls.” A business has to make it clear it’s asking to call you with robocalls. It can’t require you to agree to the robocalls in order to get any goods or services. If you agree, you have the right to change your mind.
    • Businesses using robocalls must tell you at the beginning of the call how you can prevent future calls. They must provide an automated opt-out you can activate by voice or keypress during the call. If the message could be left on your voicemail or answering machine, businesses must provide a toll-free number at the beginning of the message that will connect to an automated opt-out system you can use any time.
  • Permits some prerecorded messages
    • Some prerecorded messages are allowed under these rules. For example, purely informational messages — to say your flight was cancelled, remind you of an appointment or tell you that school is opening late — are allowed as long as the business doesn’t use the call to promote the sale of any goods or services.
    • Political calls, calls from certain healthcare providers and messages from a business contacting you to collect a debt also are permitted. So are prerecorded messages from banks, telephone carriers and charities.
    • The Federal Trade Commission manages the National Do Not Call Registry, which gives consumers a choice about getting telemarketing calls at home. To register a number, log on to donotcall.gov, or call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236).