Responding to a growing outcry from consumers, federal agencies decided to create a national do-not-call list to let Americans block telemarketing calls. Congress passed, and the president signed, legislation to implement the program.
At last count, more than 50 million phone numbers were registered, and the government is now investigating complaints against telemarketers who have allegedly called numbers on the list.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are now sharing responsibility for enforcing the National Do-Not-Call list.
If you have registered your telephone number on the National Do-Not-Call list, tell the telemarketer that you are on the list. Make a note of the date and time of the call, and identity of the telemarketer for your records. You will need this information if you elect to file a complaint.
If you are not registered on the National Do-Not-Call list, you can still instruct the telemarketer to place you on its company-specific do-not-call list. For your own reference, make a note of the date and time you asked to be put on the company-specific list. Having this information may be helpful if you get called again by the same company, and wish to file a complaint with the FCC.
Explore whether your state has its own do-not-call list. Contact your state attorney general or state office that administers the list for more information.
The FCC and the FTC will both accept complaints and share information, so consumers may file with either agency. In addition to complaints alleging violations of the do-not-call list, you may also file a complaint against a telemarketer who is calling for a commercial purpose (e.g. not charitable organizations) IF...
The telemarketer calls before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
The telemarketer leaves a message but fails to leave a phone number that you can call to sign up for their company-specific do-not-call list.
You receive a telemarketing call from an organization whom you've previously requested not to call you.
The telemarketing firm fails to identify itself.
You receive a pre-recorded commercial message from someone with whom you do not have an established business relationship and to whom you haven't given permission to call you. (Most pre-recorded commercial messages are unlawful, even if no do-not-call request has been made.)
For consumers who registered their numbers before September 1, 2003, those registrations have taken effect, and consumers may file a complaint with either the FCC or the FTC at any time if they receive telemarketing calls. For those consumers who registered their telephone numbers after August 31, 2003, the registration takes only 90 days to become effective, so those consumers can complain about calls that they receive three months or more after their registration.
Complaints that involve rules other than the do-not-call list (for example, the rule limiting telemarketing calls to 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.) can be filed at any time.
- Name, address, and telephone number where you can be reached during the business day.
- The telephone number involved with the complaint.
- As much specific information as possible, including the identity of the telemarketer or company contacting you, the date on which you put your number on the National Do-Not-Call registry or made a company-specific do-not-call request, the date(s) of any subsequent telemarketing call(s) from that telemarketer or company.
If mailing a complaint, send it to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Consumer Private Right of Action:
In addition to filing a complaint with the FCC and FTC, consumers may want to explore the possibility of filing an action in a state court.