How Effective Is The Do Not Call Registry?

A report recently released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hails the Do Not Call registry as “an effective consumer protection initiative.” Since its inception in 2003, the registry has grown to include 132 million numbers.

The agency said the program’s primary goal of reducing unwanted telemarketing calls is succeeding, largely due to a “high degree of compliance by telemarketers.” The report notes that while roughly 1.15 million complaints were received in fiscal 2006 from 374,937 registered phone numbers, that was the equivalent of only about one-quarter of 1 percent of the numbers in the database.

Telemarketers are required to pay an annual fee to access the list so they know whose dinner not to interrupt. Still, the FTC put down its fork and left the table to fine 28 companies, including DirecTV, for calling people on the Do Not Call registry.

Add yourself to the list by registering at DoNotCall.gov, or by calling 1-888-382-1222. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Do Not Call list grew by 25M in 2006 [AP]
Register Your Home Or Mobile Phone Number [FTC]
(Photo: chuckp)

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  1. EvilTapioca says:

    I’ve registered a couple of numbers on there and still got calls from Dish,Directv,Tracphone and a couple of calls about free vacations.

  2. VA_White says:

    The Do Not Call list is the best invention since the wheel. We used to get harrassed every stinking night and now we enjoy our nightly family dinner without 15 asshats asking us if we want to buy a new roof/refinance our home/open a citibank account/etc.

  3. mac-phisto says:

    @EvilTapioca: those calls about free vacations come courtesy of your loved ones. i’ve been getting a bunch lately too. thanks sis!

  4. superlayne says:

    We keep getting calls from disabled vetrans. They’re so sad when they call, and they almost plead for you to buy their ziplock bags. It’s really really sad.

  5. ironchef says:

    now they are doing it in guise of phony surveys.

    Time Warner calls us up for a phony “survey” or poll on how “satisfied” we are as entertainment consumers. Then they suddenly had the customer rep throw in a bunch of comments on how cool their digital cable service was in between the phony questions.

    damn sneaky bastards.

  6. valthun says:

    I have found that the list works. However there are someways to get around them. Those are when you sign up for a new service, or fill out those idiotic “win a free car” forms at the mall. As soon as you do that you are giving that company permission to call you at least once. You do have the option to tell them to take you off of their calling list though.

    I heard a story recently about someone who gets those calls. They ask if they can put the caller on hold, put the phone down, and leave it.

  7. mantari says:

    Step 1: Get a virgin telephone number.
    Step 2: Get a voice mail only service (different #). Mine emails me the voice mail itself.
    Step 3: Only give your voice mail service #, unless you really need to answer the phone, live
    Step 4: ????
    Step 5: No calls.

    I don’t even have to worry about charitable/political organizations calling. Yes, I am vague on the details here. On the rare occasion I get someone on the phone saying, “Hello, may I speak to Mister…”, I pause. In a weak voice, I say “He passed away last week. [akward silence]”

    It does wonders. But yeah, I guess the next best thing IS the do-not-call registry!

  8. Sudonum says:

    @mantari: How, pray tell, does one get a “virgin” telephone number?

  9. mantari says:

    @Sudonum: One way would be to go with the new local telephony players who get their own exchanges. The YYY in a telephone number in the format of XXX-YYY-ZZZZ. The newer the player, the higher the chance of a virgin number. (Otherwise, you’ll get a low-mileage number.)

  10. SOhp101 says:

    Not only is it important for you to put your # on the do not call list but also to change your privacy choices for ANY company (mainly the financial ones) and do not let them share your information even with their ‘affiliated’ companies.

    As for getting calls from politicians, re-register to vote and put a number with one digit off ‘accidentally.’ It’s not like Barack Obama is going to call you himself to tell you to vote.. oh wait they actually do that, except it’s a prerecorded message.

  11. tycho55 says:

    Hey folks, don’t forget, even if you’re registered with the DNC registry, you can still receive calls under a number of conditions. Here’s an important except from donotcall.gov:

    “By purchasing something from the company, you established a business relationship with the company. As a result, even if you put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry, that company may call you for up to 18 months after your last purchase or delivery from it, or your last payment to it, unless you ask the company not to call again. In that case, the company must honor your request not to call. If they subsequently call you again, they may be subject to a fine of up to $11,000.

    An established business relationship with a company also will be created if you make an inquiry to the company, or submit an application to it. This kind of established business relationship exists for three months after the inquiry or application. During this time, the company can call you.

    If you make a specific request to that company not to call you, however, then the company may not call you, even if you have an established business relationship with that company.”

  12. deletethisaccount says:

    I registered on the DNCL when it first came around. Over the course of the next year I re-registered the same number repeatedly with no appreciable effect. In 2004 I decided the best way to cure the problem was pull the plug on the land-line. Since then I’ve had maybe 7-10 telemarketing calls in the last three years. The last one was from a number I tracked back to DishNetwork (of which I am a customer)who left a recorded sales pitch in Spanish (I understood enough to get the gist, they were trying to pitch me the Latino package)

  13. mopar_man says:

    I don’t get any telemarketer calls anymore but I get the test calls ALL THE TIME. You know, the ones that call but nobody is there.

  14. hedora says:

    I keep getting junk calls on my cell phone. Does anyone know what to do about these? T-Mobile won’t touch it, and I can’t find a way to file a complaint with the government, other than going through the do not call list.

    I’d rather not put my number on *any* list that telemarketers have access to. I’m worried that once I publish my number so-called “legitimate” telemarketers will start calling…

    Isn’t it still illegal to junk call cell phones? If not, when did the law change?

  15. davere says:

    I filed a complaint well over a year ago and last month I got an email saying that they have received my complaint. What took them so long?

  16. guamsta says:

    I signed up with the DNC a couple months ago, and for the most part it works. Today i got a call from a “surveyor” but i cut her off asking how she got my number. She said it was pulled randomly from a list, and when i asked how that was possible since i’m on the DNC list, she quickly said Thank You and hung up.

  17. parabola101 says:

    Telemarketer Phone Tip:

    When/if telemarketers call my home phone at dinner time I put them on the speaker phone so that all my guests & family can participate in the phone conversation…

  18. hop says:

    we have had good luck with the service, but it’s right about the surveys….still get those calls once in awhile….overall it’s been quiet on the ad front…………..

  19. arcticJKL says:

    It has been working well for me. The calls are down to about four a year.

    I would like to have some confirmation from the government that someone was beaten with a stick when I report them though.

    It was fun, last time, asking the caller for the company name and phone number. They were shocked that anyone would want that information.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    I’ve been getting calls lately from a carpet cleaning business. REALLY annoying robo-intro that don’t let you escape out of them. Hung up of course. Then they repeatedly called on succeeding days. Called my Verizon operator and they said that calls that don’t use lists – instead calling in sequence – aren’t covered by the DNC list. Experts: is that true?

    Finally listed to the f*cker long enough to get an operator and, barely controlling my profanity, got off the list… We’ll see if that helps.

    Fines, suing, any way to make their life hell?

  21. mac-phisto says:

    @hedora: chances are good that you received a “recycled” number. i had a similar problem with verizon when i got a number thru them. you can have your number changed & as mantari states, try to get a high prefix. also, if you are in an area that grew too large for its area code, opt for a number in the new area code.

    assuming whoever had your number before you didn’t place it on solicitation lists, it’s also possible that some these telemarketing auto-dialers have not been configured correctly to block at cell phone prefixes OR your cell phone company is using a prefix that historically falls within the bounds of landlines (at&t wireless used to do this).

    then there’s always the possibility that your number is only one above mine, in which case, i’m sorry. =OP

  22. Theseus says:

    The fact that we’ve gotten to a place where effectiveness is “hailed” is a simultaneously sad statement on government competency and consumer protections.

  23. @mopar_man: Is that what those are? I get those alot too.

    At least I know I don’t have a stalker.


    If you don’t count companies with whom we have accounts with we don’t get many telemarketing calls. The last one I got may have been a vishing attempt: a machine says I have the chance to lower the interest on my credit card and should press 1 to get to an operator. I get an operator and ask which cardholder/account they thought they reached at this number. The woman who answered promptly hung up.

  24. Brad2723 says:

    Problems with do-not-call:

    1. It doesn’t work if companies don’t look at the list.

    2. It provides no protection in the case of existing business relationships.

    3. (Unconfirmed) Politicians and Charities use this list to provide themselves with known good phone numbers as they are exempt from its liabilities.

    4. Telemarketers just don’t seem to care when you threaten to report them to the FCC. I have no evidence that the FCC actually follows through with your complaint once you do report a company.

  25. alicetheowl says:

    I signed up for the list just as soon as I heard about it. Then I moved, and was promptly FLOODED with telemarketing calls. I’d honestly forgotten how tenacious those people are. And my husband was working overnights back then, so waiting for our new request to go on the do-not-call list was utterly grueling. I’m not sure why he didn’t just turn off the ringer during the day; I think he was worried I’d have some kind of emergency that required he be notified immediately.

    I know we got utterly SLAMMED by phone calls during last year’s midterm elections.

    Since our request to go onto the list was processed, we HAVE had a few places slip through the cracks and still call us, but most often, they’re looking for the previous residents.

    Most surreal is when they don’t believe us that those people don’t live there anymore.

    Actually, there’s a process for getting removed from the mailing lists for pre-approved credit cards, too. It’s rather nice, getting only mail that’s important. Our garbage bin thanks us.

  26. samftla says:

    I continue to get calls from a time share company. It is computer generated and no chance of getting a human. I have told them over and over again to stop calling and filed a complaint with the DNC list each time (never got a response from them) and even emailed them asking how to file charges against the caller and still they do not respond. Any ideas where to go for help?????