Friday, May 16, 2008

Do Not Call Registry - The Exception Trap for Consumers

In these difficult economic times, sales have slowed and a number of marketers are desperate to make contact with consumers. Many consumers feel secure that the Do Not Call Registry will protect them from these telemarketers. In fact, the Registry is responsible for a drastic decrease in the number of vexing calls people receive at their residences. Nevertheless, consumers must be proactive and cautious to ensure that the next time the telephone rings it's not the dreaded telemarketer.

As many know, the National Do No Call Registry began as a result of complaints from Americans who were harassed with annoying telephone calls from telemarketers selling anything from the hottest security to the newest over the counter product. All too often, these calls were received during quite family time. The Do Not Call Registry gave individuals the right to opt out of receiving sales calls by calling the government or registering on line at The Registry covers personal landlines and cell phones. Once you register with the government, your number remains on the list permanently. If you obtain a new number, you just have to register that number. After you register, It may take up to 31 days for telemarketing calls to cease


As a few have learned, the Registry does not prevent political organizations and pollsters from contacting residential telephones. In fact, Congress specifically carved out exceptions for them.
Charities are also allowed to call numbers on the Registry. In addition, if you want to receive calls from certain businesses, you can remain on the Registry and grant exceptions in writing to the businesses.

The Consumer Trap

Despite recent amendements to the laws, commercial telemarketers have found a way around the do not call ban. One popular way is to invite unsuspecting people to sign up for sweepstakes or raffles for items such as lunches. All too often, the fine print places people on marketers' call lists. Indeed, on one Maryland's consumer site, it specifically warns against contest entry forms where telephone numbers are requested. In addition, the Maryland Attorney General cautions that when completing entry form contests read both sides of the form. See

Also, although Congress carved out an exception for the telephone survey, it does not allow the pollsters and consumer researchers to do an end run around the law in an attempt to sell their goods and services in the guise of taking a survey.

One of the most popular ways to circumvent the law is to establish a business relationship with consumers. This can be done by having an account with a bank or credit card company, purchasing merchandise, or having a product delivered to your home. Once companies establish these business relationships, they may call up to 18 months after the last purchase, delivery or payment, unless you ask the entity not to call again. Other ways to establish business relationships with companies are to make an inquiry to a company about their product or servie or submit an application.

Protecting Yourself

1. Register your number with the Do Not Call Registry;

2. Keep your phone number to yourself;
(including removing them from your checks)

3. When called by a company you no longer want to receive telemarketing calls from tell them to put you on their do not call list;

4. Use *67 before calling businesses;

5. Screen calls and hang up on auto-dialers;

(Suggestions 2-5 came directly from the Maryland Attorney General)

Regardless of the source of the calls, once you tell a telemarketer to stop calling, the company must honor your request. If it fails to do so, it may be subject to a fine. To make a record of your verbal request, however, you should follow up with a letter sent certified mail/return receipt or if you can legally do so, tape record the conversation.

For New York, Maryland, DC, and Georgia residents, in addition to contacting the applicable agency to complain, you can also contact the FTC or bring your own lawsuit against the offending company.

1. New York

2. Maryland

3. Washington, D.C.

4. Georgia
(located under hot topics - "Do Not Call Law")

No comments: