Hold the Phone! Do Not Call!

7/23/2003

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Sometimes getting a call at home from a telemarketer exposes you to a product or service that you might not have otherwise known about, and you're glad you answered the phone. Unfortunately, most people view telemarketing calls as an intrusion on their time and privacy. The hue and cry over unwelcome telemarketing calls has led the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create a national database listing phone numbers of consumers who want to block unsolicited calls to their home and cells phones.

Calls exempt from the Do Not Call List include polling, surveys, and fundraisers from political parties and non-profit organizations. Many states already have Do Not Call Lists in place and will be adding their names to the national database. But to be sure your request is part of the national database, consumers are advised to register directly with the FTC. Registration for the national Do Not Call List, which is free, began June 27th, 2003. FTC Chairman Tim Muris expects the number of participating consumers to top 60 million.

Signing Up
To sign up, go to www.donotcall.gov or call the FTC toll free 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want listed in the database. When signing up online, you must provide an email address to complete the registration. Personal phone numbers remain on the Do Not Call List for five years unless you remove the number from the List or the number is disconnected.

Consumers who register before August 31, 2003 will have their numbers removed from telemarketing call lists by October 1st, 2003. Consumers signing up after September 1st, 2003 may have to wait as long as three months for their numbers to be removed.

If the Calls Continue
If you continue to get unsolicited calls from telemarketers after registering with the national Do Not Call List, you may file a complaint on the www.donotcall.gov web site or by calling the FTC toll free number above. Complaint information must include the date of the unwanted phone call and either the name or the telephone number of the marketer. If you register for the service by August 31, 2003, you will be able to file complaints beginning October 1, 2003. Those registering after September 1st must wait three months to register a complaint if telemarketing continues. Telemarketers may be fined up to $11,000 for each violation.

Telemarketers will be charged a fee to help pay the expected $18 million it costs to build, maintain and enforce the Do Not Call List. In January 2004, telemarketing intrusions will be further minimized when telemarketers are prohibited from blocking their phone numbers from caller-ID.

The Price of Quiet
Once you sign up for the national Do Not Call List, your phone may become incredibly quiet! Note that this is not a selective list. When your cell and home numbers are listed with the FTC, even those telemarketers that you might enjoy hearing from won't be allowed to phone you. Many consumers think this is a small price to pay to eliminate the unwanted calls.

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