The National Do Not Call Registry was established in 2003 by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). People in the U.S. may go to may go to donotcall.gov to register their phone number. Once they are placed on the list, telemarketers have 31 days (down from the original 90-day grace period) to stop sales call to that number.
Once a number is placed on the national registry, it remains there permanently. While both landlines and cell phone numbers maybe registered, telemarketers are legally not supposed to call cell phones at all. Since cell phones are not supposed to be contacted by telemarketers, texts are also precluded for a number on the registry.
The registry does not apply to business lines, only personal lines. Telemarketers who wish to call consumers must obtain and complain with the Do Not Call Registry.
Most U.S. states have laws regarding Do Not Call lists. Some states have adopted the federal statute. States may have more or less protections written into their laws than what is provided by the federal statute.
For example, Florida has its own Do Not Call list, and requires that Florida residents re-register every five years. Consumers should check the laws in the state where they reside.
Does the National List Restrict All Telemarketers from Calling?
The Do Not Call list is meant to restrict sales calls. However, nonprofits, political organizations (including candidates running for office), debt collectors and telephone surveyors may still call numbers that are registered on the list.
Companies making informational calls may also still phone numbers on the list. Companies with which you have an existing business relationship may also call, unless the consumer has specifically states that they do not wish to receive calls.
Consumers have, regardless of the registry, continued to receive illegal calls, especially such as technology (such as robocalls) has grown. The FTC, which manages the National Registry, receives complaints regarding these calls, and engages in lawsuits against companies engaging in illegal telemarketing.
States’ attorneys may also file lawsuits against telemarketers on behalf of consumer in their state.
Are there Any Other Means of Restricting Telemarketers from Calling?
Yes. You may ask a telemarketer to put you on their own "do not call" list and they are obliged to honor your request. This applies even to political organizations and charities.
However, in most cases telemarketers do not respect their own do not call lists, which is a reason why a state and national do not call list came into existence.
If you receive an illegal call, you should simply hang up. Interacting with the call in order to get removed from the caller company’s list may only result in receiving even more calls.
Should I Contact an Attorney?
If illegal telemarketing calls are a serious problem for you, your first step is to file a complaint with the FTC by going to donotcall.gov. If possible, keep a record of all of your calls, the nature of them, duration, and anything else that can be helpful. If these calls are reaching your cell phone, then most phones/providers allow you to quickly and permanently block the number.
If you are being harassed by the same phone number and the same person continues to call you, then consider the fact that they are not telemarketers but a stalker or a harasser. If you are facing persistent phone calls from the same, unidentifiable person, then you can contact a local attorney to help you file a restraining order.