Do Not Call Registry hits 200M phone numbers

FTC Do Not Call program continues to stop annoying telemarketing calls

Stopping those unwanted telemarketing calls right as you sit down to dinner is proving to be quite popular.  The Federal Trade Commission today said phone numbers in the Do Not Call Registry now exceed 200 million and since 2003, the agency has brought more than 60 complaints alleging violations of the Registry rules, with the largest settlement (with DirecTV) resulting in a $5.3 million penalty.

In recent enforcement activity, the FTC in June had a federal court in Chicago halt a major telemarketing operation that made at least 370 million calls illegal phone calls pitching worthless extended auto warranties and credit card interest rate-reduction programs.  According to the FTC, one telephone service provider told the FTC that during a single day in April 2009 the defendants - SBN Peripherals -- sent 2.4 million calls to consumers - more than 27 calls per second. The FTC charges the robocalls violated the agency's Do Not Call Registry Rule. The court temporarily froze the assets of SBN and appointed a receiver to take control of the operation.

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In December, the FTC went after three outfits that allegedly made robocalls to sell worthless credit-card interest-rate reduction programs for large up-front fees of as much as $1,495.   The lawsuits against Economic Relief Technologies; Dynamic Financial Group; and JPM Accelerated Services (JPM)  allege the defendants broke the law by making illegal robocalls to consumers and that their deceptive sales pitches violated the FTC Act and the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule.   The companies violated a host of regulations, the FTC says, from calling consumers whose phone numbers are on the National Do Not Call Registry; calling consumers who had previously asked not to be called; and failing to transmit their caller ID information, as required.

FTC rules prohibiting most robocalls took effect Sept. 1, 2009.  With the rules,  prerecorded commercial telemarketing robocalls will be prohibited, unless the telemarketer has obtained permission in writing from consumers who want to receive such calls.  Hopefully the rules will go a long way to helping consumers eat dinner in peace without being interrupted by amazingly annoying telemarketer blather or in this case prerecorded blather.

The FTC built the Registry to make it easier for consumers to protect their privacy and stop unwanted telemarketing calls on cell phones and land lines. Consumers can register online at or call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 from the number they wish to register. Once consumers have registered their phone number, they never need to re-register. Also, they can use the Do Not Call website (National Do Not Call Registry ) to verify that their phone number is still on the Registry. 

The FTC said charities, political organizations, and telephone surveyors are still permitted to call. Companies with which consumers have done business within the last 18 months may also continue to call, unless consumers have asked them to stop. Debt collectors may also continue to call consumers, whether their number is on the Registry or not.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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