Do Not Call Registry gets glowing reviews

With over 145,000  million registered telephone numbers, 22 successful court cases against violators, $21 million in fees in the bank and an almost 70% approval rating, the National Do Not Call Registry is a success.

That was the overarching message delivered by a  Federal Trade Commission report issued to Congress today that said the fundamental goal of the National Registry - to provide consumers with a simple, free, and effective means to limit unwanted telemarketing calls - has been achieved.

Harris Interactive in October 2007 surveyed over 2,500 adults and found that of the 72% of Americans who had registered their telephone numbers for the "Do-Not-Call Registry," 18% reported that they currently received no telemarketing calls, 59% reported that they still received some, but far fewer than before they signed onto the Registry, and 14% said they received some, but a little less than before they registered, the FTC report said.

In 2007, a total of 6,242 entities paid fees totaling $21,602,003 for access to the National Registry.  According to the FTC, telemarketers and sellers can access registered telephone numbers and pay the appropriate fee for that access, if any, through an Internet website dedicated to that purpose. The only information about consumers that companies receive from the National Registry is the registered telephone number.  Since the Registry's inception, a total of 18,197 unique entities have paid fees for access to the National Registry. The total amount of fees paid by all entities since the inception of the National Registry through the end of 2007 is $80,629,778, the report stated.

As for penalties for violating the Registry, as of September 30, 2007, the FTC said it had filed 25 cases alleging violations and had reached settlements in 22 of these cases, obtaining injunctive relief in all 22 cases. In 13 of the resolved cases, defendants paid civil penalties totaling more than $8.7 million. In the remaining resolved cases, defendants paid redress for other violations, totaling more than $8.4 million, the FTC said.

A few of these cases include:

  • USA Home Loans, Inc.: This case against a mortgage services company and four related co-defendants alleged various violations of the Amended TSR, including calling telephone numbers listed on the National Registry and failing to pay the required fee for access to the Registry. The complaint was filed concurrently with a stipulated permanent injunction that prohibits future violations and that required defendants to pay a $35,000 civil penalty.
  • Randall Leshin (Express Consolidation): The FTC's complaint alleged that a scheme, led by Florida attorney Randall Leshin, used a nonprofit company doing business as "Express Consolidation" to violate telemarketing rules. In addition to call-abandonment and do not call violations, the complaint alleged that Express Consolidation is a sham nonprofit company, created to sidestep telemarketing rules (which exempt legitimate nonprofit entities).
  • The Broadcast Team: The Broadcast Team (TBT), on behalf of various clients, allegedly violated provisions of the Amended TSR by causing more than 64 million calls to be abandoned. The 2005 complaint also alleged that more than 250,000 calls were abandoned in delivering recordings soliciting ticket sales, and more than 200,000 calls in delivering recordings soliciting charitable contributions. Additionally, TBT called telephone numbers listed on the Registry. Named as co-defendants with TBT were TBT's owners, Robert J. Tuttle and Mark S. Edwards. The case was resolved in February 2007 with the entry of a permanent injunction against defendants requiring payment of $1,000,000 in civil penalties.

In February the Registry became permanent giving the FTC final authority over it and making  consumer re-registration unnecessary.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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