'Do Not Call' registrations going smoother
Folks who want to stop telemarketers
are getting through.
Registration problems that plagued the debut of the
national Do Not Call registry on July 1 have been fixed, according
to Federal Trade Commission spokeswoman Cathy MacFarlane.
"Things have been going extremely well even with
the high volume. People are registering at quite a pace and the
system is moving very smoothly. There are few reports of problems,"
More than 15 million phone numbers were registered
during the first five days, according to the agency. Approximately
88 percent of the registrations are being done online, with 12 percent
It's the online registrations that caused a massive
problem the first day of the program. The system couldn't handle
the millions of people nationwide who tried to register their phone
numbers to block telemarketing calls. AT&T, which is running
the project's computer and phone systems added extra capacity to
accommodate the volume.
THen another problem surfaced, one that pitted
anti-spam against anti-telemarketing. Online registrations aren't
complete until the registrant receives and responds to a confirmation
e-mail from the FTC. Some e-mail providers flagged the FTC's e-mail
as spam and blocked them. That prevented the would-be registrants
from completing the process.
"The spam problem has been solved," says
MacFarlane. "If anyone registered their phone number and didn't
receive e-mail from the FTC, wait 72 hours and then go back online
and register that number again."
MacFarlane says she believes some people may not be
completing the registration process because the response link in
the FTC's e-mail doesn't work for everyone. In some e-mail programs,
people can't just click on it to automatically create a confirmation
to the FTC.
If you can't click on the link, highlight and copy
it, then paste it in your Web browser's URL window -- the space
where you type in Web addresses. Press "enter" and you
should see the confirmation statement.
The FTC estimates that more than 60 million
telephone numbers will be registered. That includes more than 14
million that will be transferred from state lists by Aug. 31.
Here are the details of the national Do Not Call registry:
The Do Not Call registry is maintained by the FTC,
but is a joint project with the Federal Communications Commission,
and will be enforced by both agencies. The registry covers both
interstate and intrastate telemarketing calls. Telemarketing calls
from political organizations, charities and organizations conducting
surveys are exempt from the do-not-call rules.
Registration is free and can be done online or by
telephone. Instructions online and by phone are in English and Spanish.
Online registration is available nationwide at www.donotcall.gov.
To register online, you must have an e-mail address. A confirmation
e-mail will be sent to that address. You need to click on a link
in the e-mail within 72 hours to finalize your registration. The
FTC says it will keep e-mail addresses in a separate, secure area
and they will not be available to telemarketers.
You can register up to three phone numbers at one
time on the Web site. Telephone registration is available at 1-888-382-1222
or TTY 1-866-290-4236. Registration by phone is available in states
west of the Mississippi River, including all of Minnesota and Louisiana.
Registration by phone will be available to all states as of July
To register by phone, you must call from the number
you want to register. You can register cell phone numbers or home
phone numbers, but registration is not open to business numbers.
Your registered phone numbers will stay in the registry
for five years unless you choose to remove it. You can renew your
registration after five years. The system automatically removes
numbers that are disconnected.
If you register by Aug. 31, 2003, the FTC says you
should start receiving fewer telemarketing calls by Oct. 1, 2003.
If you register after Sept. 1, 2003, telemarketers have three months
from the date of registry to stop calling you.
The FTC and FCC will begin accepting complaints as
of Oct. 1 from consumers who continue receiving telemarketing calls.
To complain, go to www.donotcall.gov
and click on the "File a Complaint" page, which will be
available Oct. 1. You must have either the name of the company or
its phone number, and the date the company called you.
Telemarketers are required to access the registry
as of Sept. 1, 2003 and start scrubbing their lists of registered
phone numbers. After Oct. 1, telemarketers are required to access
the list every three months and update their lists. Calling registered
numbers can result in a fine of up to $11,000 per call.
If you make a purchase or a payment, or accepted a
delivery from a company, that company may call you for up to 18
If you contact a company -- made an inquiry or submitted
an application -- that company may contact you for up to three months.
You can still stop calls from those companies by telling
them to not call you.
If you want to stop most calls, but give permission
to allow calls from certain companies, both online and phone registration
allow you to do so.
There are 27
states that have their own do-not-call lists. Many of them are
combining their lists with the national registry. If your state
is doing so, there is no need to register for the national list.