10 years of National Do Not Call: Looking back and looking ahead

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To etiquette purists, the 10th anniversary dictates gifts of metal.  So to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the National Do Not Call Registry, the FTC presents this iron-clad guarantee:  You can count on us to continue to take action against companies that violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule, as today’s $7.5 million civil penalty — the largest ever collected in an FTC Do Not Call case — demonstrates.

The FTC’s allegations against Mortgage Investors Corporation – false money savings claims targeting current and former members of the armed forces, calls to people on the Do Not Call list, refusal to honor consumers’ requests to be placed on their entity-specific list, violations of the Mortgage Acts and Practices (MAP) Rule, and deceptive representations about a VA affiliation – merit more attention in our next post.  But today let’s consider how the landscape has changed in the decade since the first consumer visited donotcall.gov to declare a phone number off-limits to telemarketers.

10 Years of Do Not CallIt took years to accomplish, including workshops, periods of robust public comment, and trips to federal court to plead consumers’ case.  But on June 27, 2003, consumers voted with their fingertips and signed up for National Do Not Call.  (A now-it-can-be-told factoid: The Registry initially debuted just for people west of the Mississippi because of concerns that millions of simultaneous calls could shut down the phone system.)  Within three months, more than 50 million numbers were registered — a figure now topping 221 million.  (A picture being worth a thousand words and all, click on the infographic for The Illustrated History.)

It wasn’t always a smooth road.  Members of the telemarketing industry sued the FTC to stop Do Not Call, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rebuffed the challenge, ruling that the Registry "directly advances the government’s important interests in safeguarding personal privacy and reducing the danger of telemarketing abuse.”

Not long after the Registry was open for business, the FTC filed its first lawsuit alleging Do Not Call violations.  The defendant:  the National Consumer Council, a bogus debt negotiation outfit that also falsely claimed to be a nonprofit.  Law enforcement actions — more than 100 so far — have continued, resulting in orders against 291 individuals and corporations.  The defendants haven’t been just fly-by-nighters.  Some of the FTC’s lawsuits have been against household names like DirecTV, Columbia House, Craftmatic, ADT Security Systems, Ameriquest Mortgage, and the marketer of Rascal Scooters.  Litigation against Dish Network is ongoing.

Advertisers and the telemarketers they hire haven’t been the only ones in the agency’s law enforcement sights.  The FTC also has challenged the role others (like payment processors) play in lending a hand to law violators.  We’ve even gone to court to shut down bogus DNC Registry scams.

What about robocalls?  Prepare to clutch your pearls, but one of the FTC’s first cases was against clothing retailer Talbots for failing to include the proper opt-out mechanism.  The agency moved quickly to address this intrusive form of marketing by amending the Telemarketing Sales Rule in 2009 to outlaw most forms of unwanted robocalls.  The recently-concluded Robocall Challenge is part of the ongoing effort against illegal robocalls.

Is there still work to be done?  Sure.  The FTC has already won multi-millions in civil penalties and equitable financial remedies for violations of Do Not Call and the Robocall Rule.  (None of that money goes to the FTC, by the way.)  But we’ll keep (un)plugging away until every consumer’s Do Not Call request is honored.

So tonight, if your family gets through dinner without an annoying telemarketing call, please remember that the National Do Not Call Registry — and consumers’ support of the program — made that possible.  And remember, too, some unsung heroes of Do Not Call:  the thousands of businesses across the country that honor their legal obligations by complying with the Telemarketing Sales Rule.



No mention in the article that the National DNC Registry was based on the CT. DNC List? This undertaking was begun by the then State Senator Thomas Colapietro, a Democrat who co-chaired the General Law Committee.
Sorry, but DNC has been rendered largely ineffective by those who call using spoofed numbers and throwaway cellphones (mostly about credit card interest rates). (Connecticut's anti-spoofing law can't really be enforced.)
So what happens to that money? Im a disabled U.S. Marine and have been pounded by telemarketers, I'm on the do not call list and I haven't seen any help.
Thank you for responding every time that I have called and reported abuses. It is so wonderful to know that someone(s) are looking out for the citizen's concerns.
thanks for your hard work!!
My phone is registered in the national DNC Registry, hell I am getting more calls from Gas and energy providers, also credit cards people more than before. When I ask them if they do not see my # listed on the DNC list one responded !!YEAH,YEAH TELL ME ABOUT IT AND HANG UP!! that leaves me wondering if this DNC program is being over ride or something of the sort.
I have been registered with the DNC since 2005 and still receive several unsolicited telemarketing and robocalls a day. While 'legitimate' telemarketers may respect the do-not-call list, what can be done about the other telemarketers that do not? They harass and disrupt our privacy with impunity. While the FTC's 105 'Law enforcement actions' over the last 10 years may sound impressive, it averages out to less than one a month ... a number that pales in comparison to the untold millions of unwanted, unwarranted, unsolicited, often abusive, privacy-violating telemarketing calls made.
I have been registered with the DNC since 2005. I still receive daily telemarketing and robo calls, sometimes several each day. While 'legitimate' telemarketers may respect the rules and honor the DNC, there are obviously many that don't. These telemarketers harass us with apparent impunity. While the 105 'law enforcement actions' the FTC has taken over the last ten years may sound impressive, it averages out to less than one each month. This number pales in comparison to the untold millions of unsolicited, unwarranted, unwanted, privacy-invading, often abusive or obnoxious calls that are still being made to those of us who have asked not to be contacted. While the DNC list was a good idea, it is far from being enough. We need stricter laws and rules (with tougher sanctions) that are vigorously enforced when reaching a much smaller threshold of complaints. How a telemarketing industry can thrive in a society with so much hate and animosity directed toward them has always been a mystery to me.
We are thankful for the wonderful job you are doing. We keep notice of the telescammers you have caught. It can't be easy, but you succeed. In light of the emerging technology (Voip, predictive dialers, etc), it seems like congress needs to get involved as an additional force. These callers are totally out of control. They call constantly. If we answer they speak, and use vulgar language. We do thank you, and hope for additional help. Best regards. Mike Z.
I think you should be more proactive in providing both publicity on the perpetrators who have been caught and fined and an RSVP to those of us who have filed complaints. For example, I have filed many complaints against "cardholder services" and if I had not clicked on the link to the FTC on the DNC web site, I would not have known that they were fined. You should also provide more publicity about using the registry to also file a complaint and add a link to the cases completed. On the good side, thank you. I am glad to see you are making progress on catching the perps.
Seriously??? While the Bureau may be well intended and sincere in their efforts, the "Do Not Call List" is ineffective - it just does not work. On average, I get 10-12 of these calls a day and that number is increasing. Some companies have been at it for two years calling from all over the country. If I hang on the line and do nothing more than ask them what company they work for, they just hang up. I am sure some are off shore, some use burner phones, many are computer generated robocalls, etc. Even if they offer you an opt out, you will just get even more phone calls. My son doesn't even answer his home phone because of this problem - a service he is paying for and can't even use. Ironically, I have received four calls this morning already - one while I was in the midst of writing this memo Caller I.D. Unknown 206-397-1762. I have tried blocking numbers, call backs (never a successful connection), reverse phone call look ups,etc. I once thought I had one only to discover their business address was an empty warehouse in Miami (I live in PA). While I applaud your efforts, you need to go back to the drawing board, think outside the box, impose not only heavy fines but serious jail time. I realize there is no magic bullet but we have to do better than this!!!

The process needs to be MUCH MUCH simpler for the victims:

- Assign ID numbers to ALL phone solicitors.
- Require that ALL solicitors register and list thier parent company and contact information, billing, verification information and ALL phone numbers
from which they, or thier agents, will initiate calls to potential consumers (make them pay for it),
with appropriate and effective penaties for incorrect or incomplete or not-up-to-date information.
- Require solicitors to provide thier registered ID, UP FRONT in every call.
- AUTOMATICALLY and EFFECTIVELY fine solicitors for violations of the don't-call registry (let them appeal if they want).
- Require that FTC and phone companies participate effectively. Publish violations.
- Require that FTC, phone companies, equipment and service suppliers allow an easy-for-the-victim effective and inexpensive call-blocking capability.
(e.g. Upon receiving and unwanted call, I just push a button, and all future incoming calls from that number are blocked.)
(also, a automated link back to the solicitor-registration information would be good)
- Provide an effective means of determining whether the system is working effectively.

My home phone and cell have been registered on the National Do Not Call List since it's enception. After a short period, the calls began to subside, then quit. It was great! Over the years, the harrassing calls have slowly come back and are now at an all time high on both phones. For several years, I continued to file complaints on the FTC website, but quite frankly, I'm burned out on making the complaints and seeing no relief. The successes mentioned in the article are all well and good, but it's mostly meaningless to us average taxpayers. The abuses are worse than ever. Throw in robo calls, unwanted text ads and you have a national disgrace. It's totally out of control. I'm convinced that political pressure on the FTC is the only solution.
Like Dave D, I signed up years ago, was thrilled at first, and am, once again, inundated on work, home, and cell phones. The FTC should admit that the program is, for its intended purpose of protecting the average consumer, a failure. Trumpeting the rare successes on your homepage just makes you look even more out of touch. If you need legislative help, talk about that. If you need a bigger budget, speak up. But enough with the Pollyanna routine.
" And remember, too, some unsung heroes of Do Not Call: the thousands of businesses across the country that honor their legal obligations by complying with the Telemarketing Sales Rule." Doing the right and legal thing makes them a hero? Pretty low bar BCP.
Why do I get so many calls, after being on the registry for more than ten years? We get at least 8 to 10 calls a day.
I work at home and now neither my wife or I ever answer the phone but let it go to voice. Its every few minutes, ringing all numbers I am unfamiliar with and robot calls even from politicians, Obamacare calls, loan calls, surveys all day every day. Its like the wild west and I give no kudos to FTC . its a disgrace that such a wild west environment should exist in our own home. Its not good for my business and I am sure it leads to a very high level of unproductivity. Most of the abusers have hundreds of complaints yet the FTC fails to act,. One caller did not like my complaint and I asked that he not call again. Instead he called every minutes and I called the police station in his location. The only junk that should be allowed is mail junk and that would help support the postal service, but email and phone calls by machines should be banned. Wake up government and govern so that we not all wild west victim

I was getting many many calls everyday too but then I bought a call blocker machine that also blocks robo calls & political calls. It's about the only thing a person can do to stop calls from getting through. It does ring once even though the call is blocked. For calls on my Blocked List & Robo calls, they are ask to punch in either numbers or pound key or something like that, the Robo calls can't punch any key on the phone as they aren't real people, so they are automatically blocked. The call blocker has a list called the Accepted List. You have to put those numbers into the machine & does that a few minutes depending on how many numbers you have that you allow to call you. But once it's done, that machine is awesome! It was money well spent. When a new call comes in, regardless if it is on the Accepted List or Blocked List or an actual new number, I see the word new at the top of the little screen that says New. So I check these numbers & write them down & look then up on the website http://800notes.com & you can see if it is a number that is calling other people in the U.S. Some people answer these callers & will post what experience they had with the person on the other end of the phone. Most times the bad guys are rood to people so you know they are a reputable company due to the fact they would be reported & most likely lose their jobs.

So about the only way you can stop these callers from calling you that you don't want to call you is to buy some type of call blocker machine. The gov't can only stop the reputable companies from calling with the no call list but even then some of those companies would rather pay the penalty cost because they figure they make hundreds of thousands of dollars more in the long run by calling people.

CONGRATULATIONS! Job well done. Keep up good work. You are appreciated. Ohio User
So, after reading this article, I wonder--what is the FTC doing about the small-time operations that abuse the DNC list? Are they only going after major corporations because those are the most profitable? The majority of my calls are from so-called home contractors and solar installers. Many of those are calling from spoofed numbers. And where are the profits going to (if there are any) that the FTC wins in lawsuits? They should go right back into enforcing the DNC list. As with most government organizations, this one is broken. And like most, there is no incentive to improve. Better to pay a private company to do the job, and have them report to the FTC.
The DNC can work. But it is going to take citizen involvement. We need to write to our US Senators and ask them to hold hearings and bring witnesses to testify about the over two million unresolved complaint that we have reported to the FTC. And also hold this agency accountable. We are doing our part; now the FTC needs to do its job.
In the above report, the last paragraph states: “So tonight, if your family gets through dinner without an annoying telemarketing call, please remember that the National Do Not Call Registry…” I do not know what world this agency is living in. They are way out of touch. With over two million unresolved complaints since January, it is obvious that they are not living in the same world that the citizens they are supposed to be helping live. These telemarketers invade our home and harass our families while the FTC is filing away our complaints. How can they now what the citizens are enduring when they are patting themselves on the back because they are protecting us from honest businesses? Isn’t the duty of enforcement to catch the dishonest law breakers? For many citizens with health problem, the phone is a life line to their care providers. Some with pacemakers must have their pace maker checked by a machine connected to a phone; after the reading is given to a doctor, the doctor may need to contact the patient if adjustments are needed to the medication or pacemaker . This is just but one example. Because the FTC ignores the complaints reported to them and not enforce the DNC law, the patient must wade through numerous messages left I the answering machine by telemarketers such as card member services to find their doctor’s message. Also woman with two young children afraid because the telemarketer is living her threatening vulgar messages because she has not accepted their offer. She is doing her part reporting this to what supposed to be the enforcer. When the enforcer does not help her, she is left afraid, insecure saying there must be something that can be done. It is not hard to catch these law breakers. There are proven methods. All they have to do is ask an agencies that does enforce the law. I am glad that not all enforcement agencies think like this agency. Other enforcement agencies do go after the law breakers. It is obvious that we need to ask Congress to have permanent oversight over this agency or they will continue to file away our complaints and pat themselves on the back for doing such a great job at filing.
the FTC is a joke. I have filed numerous complaints and was still getting 3-5 robocalls a day. and even if you call these clowns they will admit they have no way to stop the caller ID spoofing and cannot track the calls. the only thing that has worked for me is the free Nomorob service for VOIP phones at Comcast and other providers. So ia agree with most above - the do not call list is worthless as far as we can see.
The Do not call list is no more then a anti-business law. It is meant to put people out of employment. People should not request stuff in the first place. Many of the people who complain wanted to be called in the first place.
If you consider phishing and cold calling a list of phone numbers a business, then you sir deserve to be out of it. You painfully blur the lines between revenue earned from advancing society, and revenue earned by taking advantage of society's loopholes. Your idea of "profit no matter the environmental, social, or other direct repercussion" is the exact reason the death penalty should be used as a common form of punishment in white-collar capitalist crime.

While I do appreciate that this organization is making an effort, and probably doing so with wholly inadequate funding, the thought that I get "through dinner without an annoying telemarketing call" is a bit laughable. I'd welcome a good old fashioned annoying telemarketing call at this point. Instead, I receive multiple phone calls from the same phone number, sometimes within the same hour. These phone calls alternately threaten computer failure, or civil suits, or some other scare tactic. Presumably, the hope is to extort information for identity theft. I simply hang up. However, it is a frustrating, time wasting, annoyance. I can't understand why fraud perpetrated with that frequency (and many, many others receive the same call from the same number) are not actionable. Here's an idea. Why not simply set up a few fake number to receive these calls yourself, set up some sort of back-tracing with the FBI, and simply register for a few things online to guarantee you receive them. These thieves don't seem particularly smart or inventive. Why wait for the reports, when you can lure them to you?

Sadly, it's because what they're doing is unfortunately not illegal. It doesn't become illegal until you tell them not to call you any more. However, if you tell anyone calling for collections to call your lawyer from now on, and you document every time they call again after that, you can take them to court and sue their bank accounts out from under them. Little known fact. Enjoy.

This law is just an anti-business joke. If you don't want to talk to them, DO NOT ANSWER THE PHONE! Business has a right to exist, especially small business that employs most of the workers, Get the Government out of our lives if you want to live in a capitalist country and reap its benefits!

If your business is any good, you don't have to harass people via phone to sell it. It will sell itself.

I want to know where this money is going

I would imagine a goodly percentage goes to lining the FTC's lawyers pockets. They seem to be the only ones benefiting from the lawsuits.

I'd like to see some of the money used to subsidize Call Blocker Device manufacturers or as a rebate for those of us who purchase such devices to attempt to mitigate what the DNC list cannot do and the FTC will not do.

Hi, CBaker. FTC attorneys are federal employees, whose salaries are paid by taxpayers like you. (And we appreciate that -- really!) Money companies pay in civil penalties for violations of the Telemarketing Sales Rule goes to the U.S. Treasury. It doesn't go to the FTC and none of it goes to FTC lawyers. But we appreciate your point about using technology as a tool against illegal telemarketing. The FTC has sponsored three contests to spur innovation in that area. The first was the Robocall Challenge in 2013: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/04/ftc-announces-robocall-challenge-winners Here is more information about the "Zapping Rachel" effort in 2014: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/08/ftc-announces-winners-zapping-rachel-robocall-contest And here is the latest initiative, "Humanity Strikes Back": https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/03/ftc-announces-new-robocall-contests-combat-illegal-automated

Laugh out loud at the grade F performance. I filed hundreds of complaints since the dawn of the registry and I have given up. I happen to be here just because I am looking for a good call blocker and to see if FTC has any recommendation.

I am astounded by the 10 to 20 calls i get per day. I think the DNC is nothing more than a non productive arm of the FTC. When the calls produce no results they will subside without the FTC. Just a waste of taxpayer money. File a complaint? Give me a break. How many people does the DNC employ and what kind of budget do they have? DNC has been around for since 2003 shouldn't be long until the tax payer is paying pensioners.

When a person or group doesn't do what they were hired to do, they are fired. This is the real world. After 10 years this list is not working and it's about time they stop funding for a dis-service. I am not picking on the do not call list just it isn't working and by reading here its true they are ineffective. Lobby to end support for do not call list and hire someone who can do something about it. Now.

The do not call laws are not being enforced. I get 100 per night and have stopped filing complaints since the government is not doing anything about this. Tonight I snapped after the 100th call and accidentally yelled at cherished business client I mistook for the 101st call. Do we need vigilantes to manage
this in the absence of government action? This negligence is why people are voting for Trump

About the only thing everyone can do is buy a call blocker machine if they have a home phone. I bought a call blocker that is also a robo blocker. Since a robo call is not a real person on the other end of the call, the machine ask the caller to punch in a number or symbol or something to that effect. Since they aren't a real person, they can't do this, so they are automatically blocked. The call blocker machine I have rings one time if it from a caller who is on my blocked list, so I know if it doesn't ring more than once, I don't have to hurry to the phone to answer it.

If you have a cell phone & get all these calls & your cell doesn't have a call blocker service on it, then you can either call your cell provider & ask them if they have a service you can add to your phone & if not, ask them if they know of a good cell phone blocker program you can download from the Internet.

This government's do not call list is only good for companies who will abide by the law. Crooks, bad people, scammers, etc., they don't care & will do everything they can to try to steal from people.

I've been a member of DO NOT CALL for many many years. Your agency is ineffective and it concerns me that within minutes of filing a complaint... I get another robo call. Your agency should be shut down and save the government money so they can use that money to fund Social Security.

The FTC is a disgrace to tout the DNC list as anything but an absolute failure. The wonderful invention of the telephone has been exploited and distorted by unethical people into an intrusive and annoying uninvited interruption into the peace of our own homes. Fifty years ago, having a phone was a good and useful thing. Now it is only useful if you are willing to withstand the aggravation of consistent unwanted calls. This includes charities and political calls.

This issue is not even comparable to junk email or junk physical mail. Those are things that you look at when it suits you, they do not interrupt your day.

I'd like to see REAL enforcement happen. Possibly develop some technological solutions that include the phone companies to fight against the identity theft style calls. As someone against big government in general, I am not opposed to government stepping in to help quality of life and fight the actions of criminals. So if it takes more money to ensure better enforcement and some new laws outlawing unsolicited telemarketing (specifically to homes, since business to business calls are a little trickier to judge), then I am for that.

My wife and I have been on the Do Not Call list since it started!
The only thing I can say is, that since it started I still to this day, AND I MEAN TODAY, still get robo calls!
We have been digilant in filing reports and notifying the FTC of the calls!
If the program really worked there wouldn't be a need to file the reports and the FTC could Justify their funding!
The excerpt above is a small fraction of what they could be collecting in penalties if they actually went after the ones violating the law! Instead they pick and choose who the law applies to!
As I see it they have been funded for over 10 years and have little to offer us as proof that they are effective!

Maybe in 10 more years you can get it to work. I think you all have done an awful job. The Spammers still call with NO fear of our Government.

I have given the DNC list the names of companies thatAvenue don't have throw away phones. The names of the companies have come up on caller ID. I've repeatedly asked the DNC to file a law suit. Not only has the DNC done NOTHING, they haven't even had the courtsey to call me. A call blocker on my landline has helped but now my cell is getting slammed all day long. Looks like the DNC is a another waste of my tax dollars.

my phone has been registered for many years and have submitted many complaints. the volume of unsolicited calls that I receive hasn't diminished over the years,although I haven't been good about keeping track as to whether i have stopped receiving calls from the numbers that i have reported. I plan to begin doing this in the future. I would recommend that everyone else do the same. I'm sure this government office has a large enough budget that voters should have an objective idea of it's effectiveness

As of today, the site still shows 105 cases just as this 2013 write up shows. Either they haven't had any more cases, or they haven't bothered to update their website as of 2017. Anyone else curious where our tax dollars are going? The "List" isn't stopping many robocalls for me these days.

Hi, Daniel.  As of January 17, 2017, the current number of cases is 165.

You no longer function at all in my experiences. I came here searching for the wasted dollars which make up your departments annual budget. You are leaps and bounds behind your target.....and are a waste of tax money IMO. In theory it was great and it may have had good results for a while.

^^^ This...I'm here looking for the budget for this program.

The DoNotCall program is essentially another failed government program in which a gross violator was fined $2.5 Million USD and settled f0r 65,000. He and his affiliates should have received 5 year jail time for all the misery they have sown. 'Robo crooks'are winning because they can as long as the FTC continues to drag it's feet and not take this national crime of abuse and forum for criminals seriously. Fire them if they don't have some thief fined significantly and jailed in some hellhole with other scumbags.

If you were to ask me I would say that the National Do Not Call registry is totally ineffective. I average 4 or 5 calls a day from scammers, etc. I cannot get away. I just had two calls in the last 30 minutes. I have an app called Hiya that works somewhat to tell me if the caller is a scam, etc. But there are those who block their outgoing numbers or use an deceptive app which fakes a number similar to mine. I just don't answer but the ringing is still annoying. I have reported hundreds of numbers but I would bet none are found or fined.


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