Fed-up with unwanted telemarketing calls, consumers are anxious to add their telephone number to a do-not-call list. Interest has been fueled by recent media reports of a new do-not-call list soon to launched in California. When this happens, California will join about 20 other states that already have do-not-call lists.
In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has adopted rules that will establish a national do-not-call registry, and the FTC may be joined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in this effort.
This alert is provided to bring you up-to-date on what you can do now to reduce unwanted telemarketing calls as well as the latest on do-not-call registries that are proposed for the near future. For more on telemarketing and what you can do to reduce the number of calls you receive, see our Fact Sheet 5: "Telemarketing: Whatever Happened to a Quiet Evening at Home?" www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs5-tmkt.ht
California's Do-Not-Call List
California lawmakers passed a law in 2001 establishing a statewide do-not-call list. Originally scheduled to be available in January 2003, registration is now scheduled to start in April 2003. However, the latest information from the California Attorney General's Office (the agency that will oversee California's list) cautions that April 1, 2003, is not a firm date. California officials are still watching to see whether the federal government will establish a national do-not-call registry. For more on California's do-not-call list, see: www.caag.state.ca.us/donotcall/index.htm or call the AG's Do Not Call Information Line at (888) 398-7867. You can also call the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse hotline at (619) 298-3396, visit our web site at www.privacyrights.org, or contact us: www.privacyrights.org/qwertyuiopasdfghjkl.php
If you don't live in California, your state may already have a do-not call list. Currently, state do not-call lists are available for consumers in: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. The Direct Marketing Association provides a list of states at this web site: www.the-dma.org/government/donotcalllists.shtml.
To learn more about sign-up procedures and the costs of registering in your state, visit the web site maintained by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) www.aarp.org/bulletin/departments/2002/consumer/0810_consumer_1.html
National Do-Not-Call Registry
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced plans to develop a national do-not-call list. For more about the national list, see, www.ftc.gov/opa/2002/12/donotcall.htm
The actual start-up for the national do-not-call list now hinges on Congress' willingness to provide the funds needed. After some initial reluctance, the latest word we have is that the funds will be approved and the list may be available for registration by the end of 2003. Telemarketers will be assessed a fee to use the do-not-call list.
The FTC's proposal for a national do-not-call list was welcome news for consumers. But, due to legal and jurisdictional limits, the FTC cannot regulate many of the kinds of companies that make unwanted telemarketing calls. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on the other hand, can regulate many other kinds of companies, and that agency too is considering a do-not-call list. http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-226183A1.pdf The FCC has publicly pledged to work with the FTC to give consumers greater relief from unwanted telemarketing calls. http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-229655A1.pdf
What You Can Do Now
Direct Marketing Association's Do-Not-Call List
The national Direct Marketing Association (DMA) maintains a do-not-call list called the Telephone Preference Service. This list has been available for many years, but only about 5% of households have responded. Having your telephone number on the DMA's list will not stop all telemarketer calls. But it will make a noticeable difference. Members of the Direct Marketing Association, the largest marketers in the country, are required to use the list. So, when you sign up for the Telephone Preference Service, you will experience a reduction in calls. You will still receive calls from those companies that are not members of the DMA who have chosen to not use the list. You don't have to pay to put your name on the DMA list, if you write to:
Direct Marketing Association
Telephone Preference Service
PO Box 1559
Carmel, NY 10512.
You can also add your telephone number to the DMA's list online, but it will cost you $5.00. www.dmaconsumers.org.
Company Specific Do-Not-Call List
FCC regulations require companies that make telemarketing calls to maintain an in-house do-not-call list. This means when a telemarketer calls your number, you can tell the caller to place you on its do-not-call list. After that, if the company calls you again, you can file a lawsuit in small claims court. The penalty is $500 for each violation of the FCC's rule.
For more on the company-specific do-not-call list and how you can file a complaint with the FCC, see: www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/tcpa.html The Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) also has advice on how to plan your case against unwanted telemarketers, "Take Back Your Telephone": www.ucan.org/members/takebackyourphone/takebakurphone.html Other useful web sites are www.stopjunkcalls.com and www.private-citizen.com.
Beware of Do-Not-Call Scams
Remember: Do-not-call lists are maintained by government agencies. No company has authority to put your name on a government-operated do-not-call list to stop unwanted telemarketing calls. What's more, the legitimate lists require that you take the initiative - you have to contact the state or federal agency that keeps the list. If you are contacted by anyone who offers to put your name on a do-not-call list for a fee, do not respond.
The crooks who operate these scams may be trying to take your money - or worse -- entice you to give them personal information so they can steal your identity. For more on do-not-call telemarketing scams and what to do if you are contacted, see: www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/telemarketscam.html