The Real Truth About the "Do Not Call" Registry

The Real Truth About the "Do Not Call" Registry

E-mails about the National Do Not Call Registry continue to circulate the Web. But does it really protect you from telemarketers? We separate fact from fiction.
Text Size:
Wrong number: Despite contrary claims circulating the Web, the National Do Not Call Registry protects people from telemarketers indefinitely.It's hard to keep a good urban legend down. Your heart may have jumped and you may have clutched your cell phone a little tighter if you received this charmingly formatted e-mail recently:

REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month.
REMINDER..... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls.
To prevent this, call the following number from your cell and home phone: 888-382-XXXX.
It is the National DO NOT CALL list It will only take a minute of your time.. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked.
You cannot call from a different phone number.
It takes about 20 seconds.

It's no wonder this e-mail has been rearing its ugly head in inboxes since at least 2004, according to urban legend debunking site Snopes. Nothing is more irritating than someone calling to sell you pet insurance during dinner time or copier supplies during a big meeting. Getting that kind of call on your cell phone adds another level of obnoxiousness.

The recent "Do Not Call" scare revival comes at a time when families and businesses are increasingly dropping landlines in favor of cell phones. The National Center for Health Statistics found that one-quarter of households used only wireless phones in the second half of 2009.

What's True
  1. The National Do Not Call Registry is real. It's managed by the Federal Trade Commission. Cell phone numbers can be registered. To register, call 888-382-1222 or visit donotcall.gov.
  2. You will be charged for any incoming telemarketing calls. Assuming telemarketers got your cell number somehow and are calling you, it is treated like any other incoming call and charged according to your wireless service plan.
  3. Telemarketers are required to respect the registry. They have 31 days to quit calling you after you register your number.
What's False
  1. Cell phone numbers aren't going public this month or any other month. There is no huge directory of numbers that will be handed over to telemarketers.
  2. There is no five-year expiration. Originally, numbers were supposed to be renewed in the registry every five years. That went out the window in 2007 when the FTC announced that registrations will carry over indefinitely unless a number is reassigned, disconnected or the registrant takes the number off the list.

When Calls Keep Coming

There is a small catch in the Do Not Call Registry. According to the FTC, "A telemarketer or seller may call a consumer with whom it has an established business relationship for up to 18 months after the consumer's last purchase, delivery, or payment -- even if the consumer's number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. In addition, a company may call a consumer for up to three months after the consumer makes an inquiry or submits an application to the company. And if a consumer has given a company written permission, the company may call even if the consumer's number is on the National Do Not Call Registry."

For those reasons, you might want to think twice about giving out your cell phone number when you're doing business. Remember, you always have one weapon in your own personal do-not-call arsenal: asking telemarketers not to call you. Report violators through the Do Not Call Registry site.

So next time that alarming e-mail makes it into your inbox, hit delete and feel safe in the knowledge that your cell phone number is in good hands.

blog comments powered by Disqus