The Common Law

Annoying telemarketing calls? Try the National Do Not Call Registry

A friend forwarded me an e-mail from a company that says if I sign up my phone with them, they can stop me from receiving any more telemarketing phone calls. Is this for real?

Probably not. The Federal Trade Commission has created the National Do Not Call Registry (see below). The FTC does not, however, allow private companies or third parties to register consumers for the Do Not Call Registry. According to the FTC, "websites or phone solicitations that claim they can or will register a consumer's name or phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry -- especially those that charge a fee -- are almost certainly a scam." So chances are the e-mail you received isn't worth your time (or money).

Anyone interested in avoiding more of those annoying telemarketing calls should consider registering their phones with the FTC's National Do Not Call Registry (the "Registry"). The Registry allows consumers to register their phones, which makes it easier and more efficient to block unwanted calls because telemarketers are required to search the Registry every 31 days (starting Jan. 1, 2005) and delete from their call lists any numbers that are in the Registry. An early Harris Interactive poll suggests the Registry is successful -- 78% of people who reported placing a number on the Registry said they are getting "far fewer calls" or none at all.

Consumers can register home phone numbers as well as cell phones. There is no deadline to register a home or cell phone number on the Registry, and once submitted, the phone number will remain on the Registry for five years.

Consumers who want to register a phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry should visit www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222. Consumers registering a phone number online will be asked to provide a valid e-mail address (confirmation of the registration will be sent there). Consumers who register by phone must call from the phone they want to register. Anyone who wants more information should check out the FTC's Questions and Answers regarding the National Do Not Call Registry (www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/dncalrt.htm).

Please submit column suggestions, questions, and comments to thecommonlaw@austinchronicle.com. Submission of potential topics does not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information submitted is subject to being included in future columns.

Marrs, Ellis & Hodge LLP, www.jmehlaw.com.

The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or www.austinlrs.com.

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