The opening of the National Do Not Call Registry, a free service of the federal government developed to give consumers a choice about getting telemarketing calls at home, was announced this morning by President George W. Bush, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Timothy J. Muris, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael K. Powell.
The National Do Not Call Registry will make it easier and more efficient for consumers to stop getting telemarketing calls they do not want. Consumers can register in two ways: online or by calling a toll-free number. Registration is free and is available in both English and Spanish.
"We're very pleased that beginning today, consumers can make the call on whether to get telemarketing pitches at home," said FTC Chairman Muris. "Registration is free and easy, whether it is done online or by telephone."
Consumers nationwide can register online at DONOTCALL.GOV. Consumers in states west of the Mississippi River (including Louisiana and Minnesota) can register by calling, toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236). On July 7, phone registration will be open to the entire country.
"Government is at its best when it empowers individuals to make their own choices," said FCC Chairman Powell. "Consumers wanted more control over their telephones - and we are giving it to them."
If consumers register by phone, they must call from the number they want to register. If consumers register online, they must provide an email address. After registering online, consumers will receive an e-mail and need to click on a link in the e-mail within 72 hours to complete online registration. E-mail addresses on the registry will not be shared with anyone. Registration lasts for five years, until a number is disconnected, or until the consumer takes it off the registry.
The FTC, the FCC, and the states will begin enforcing the Do Not Call provisions of the Telemarketing Rules on October 1, 2003. On that date, consumers who register by August 31 will start to notice a downturn in the number of telemarketing calls they receive. Some calls, however, such as those from political organizations, solicitation calls on behalf of charities, and calls to conduct surveys, are not covered by the National Registry requirements. Consumers who sign up for the registry may still receive these calls.
In addition, companies with which consumers have an established business relationship may call for up to 18 months after the last purchase, payment or delivery, even if the consumer's name is on the National Do Not Call Registry. Companies to which consumers have made an inquiry or submitted an application can call for three months. If a consumer asks a company not to call, however, that request trumps an existing business relationship.
If consumers place their numbers on the National Registry, they may give written permission to particular companies that they want to hear from. If consumers do not put their number on the National Registry, they can still prohibit individual telemarketers from calling by asking them, one by one, to put them on their company's do not call list.
After October 1, 2003, telemarketers will be required to access the registry every three months and scrub numbers on it from their call lists. Telemarketers who call a number on the list could be fined up to $11,000 per call. If you receive telemarketing calls after you have registered your phone number and your number has been in the registry for three months, you can file a complaint at DONOTCALL.GOV or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
Most of the 27 states that have active do not call lists plan to transfer the numbers on their lists to the National Do Not Call Registry. Some will not. A list of states transferring their do not call lists to the National Registry is posted at www.ftc.gov/donotcall.
Responsibilities of states under the new FCC regulations are located at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-235841A1.pdf.
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