The National Do Not Call Registry is a compiled list of phone numbers belonging to people who do not wish to receive calls from vendors or telemarketers. The registry is administered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is the United States’ consumer protection agency.
Created in 2003, the National Do Not Call Registry is designed to give consumers freedom of choice when it comes to receiving telemarketing calls. Only personal numbers can be added to the register. Business numbers and fax numbers are not covered. Once added, telephone numbers will remain on the registry until they are disconnected, reassigned or until the consumer decides to remove their number from the list.
What Types of Calls are Covered by the Do Not Call Registry?
The ‘do not call’ regulations of the Telemarketing Sale Rule (TSR) cover any campaign, program or plan to sell services and goods through phone calls. This includes calls made by telemarketers who are acting on behalf of third-party vendors and vendors who are providing or offering services and goods to consumers in exchange for or as part of a telemarketing transaction. The Do Not Call Registry’s provisions do not cover calls from charitable foundations, political organizations, telephone surveys, or companies with which the consumer already has a business relationship.
Organizations which are Exempt from the Do Not Call Registry
Your organization may be eligible for exempt status from the Do Not Call Registry if it is a non-profit organization or an organization that only makes calls for one of the following reasons:
- A message that is purely informational is being delivered. For example, the call is being made to inform a consumer about the delivery status of an order.
- The call is being made for the sole purpose of conducting a survey, which is not part of a plan to solicit purchases of services or goods.
- The call is being made specifically to promote a political party or candidate.
- The call is being made from one business to another business in order to solicit a purchase.
- The call is being made in an attempt to solicit a charitable donation.
- The call is being made to a consumer who already has an established business relationship with the organization making the call.
Calls may also be made to consumers who have given their written consent to receive calls from telemarketers.
Who Has Access to the Do Not Call Registry?
The only people who can access the Do Not Call Registry are telemarketers, vendors, and other service providers. The numbers on the Do Not Call Registry may not be used for any purpose other than preventing telemarketing calls to the numbers listed on the registry. Use of the numbers for any other purpose could result in legal action being taken. You can access the Do Not Call Registry through the telemarketing.donotcall.gov secure website. You must sign up and set up a profile by providing information about your organization. If you are accessing the registry on behalf of a vendor-client, then you must also provide their information. If you are required to use the Do Not Call Registry, then you must update your lists to match the registry every 31 days. Your access to the registry is only for the area codes for which you have paid.
Your access is unlimited until your annual fee has expired.
Paying for Access to the Do Not Call Registry
For organizations who wish to access the registry, information for up to five area codes is free. For subsequent data, there is an annual fee of $62 per area code, up to a maximum fee of $17,021. The fee is paid on an annual basis. The fee covers a period of twelve months following the first day of the month in which the subscription was paid. Exempt organizations may access the registry without paying a fee. An organization that pays the fee with a credit card will receive immediate access to the registry.
An organization which pays the subscription fee by electronic transfer of funds will gain access once the payment has cleared. Organizations that want to access information from more area codes than originally chosen may do so, but charges will incur if the total number of area codes is in excess of five. Additional charges of $62 per area code will be made during the first six months of the annual period. During the second six months, the organization will be charged $31 for each new area code.
Organizations’ Compliance and Liability
An organization that is a vendor or telemarketer may be liable for making telemarketing calls, even to numbers which are not listed in the Do Not Call Registry, if the vendor has not first accessed the registry and paid the appropriate fee. Each call that is made counts as a separate violation. Each violation can incur a fine of up to $40,654.
It is against the law for a vendor or telemarketer to call any number listed in the Do Not Call Registry unless the vendor or telemarketer has already established a business relationship with the consumer or the consumer has provided written consent to be called. It is also against the law for a vendor or telemarketer to call a consumer within a given area code unless the vendor has first subscribed to the section of the Do Not Call Registry covering that area code. You can obtain more detailed information about compliance in the online guide Complying with the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
If you are thinking of trying to draw new business with a call campaign, before you dial, make sure you are aware of the National Do Not Call Registry rules and regulations. Otherwise, you may end up on the receiving end of some heavy fines. Remember, it’s okay to call a client if you have an existing business relationship, or if you are taking a survey, but you must be aware of state Do Not Call lists.