FCC Expands US Do-Not-Call List As First Names Added

30 June 2003

The US-wide ‘do-not-call’ telemarketing register – officially launched Friday – will now apply to all commercial marketers.

Last week the Federal Communications Commission voted to bring companies under its authority into the scheme. These firms must start deleting names on the register from their records from October 1, the same date as marketers already obliged to use the list.

The scheme was originally set up by the Federal Trade Commission and has so far been applicable only to the industries this agency regulates – a group that excludes banks, airlines and phone companies. However, the FCC decision will force firms in these sectors to buy and implement the FTC’s register.

The FCC said it will release further details in the next few weeks, but added its proposals would largely match those of the FTC. In addition, the agency revealed it had voted to include in its scheme telemarketing calls made and received within the same state – a sector over which the FTC has no jurisdiction.

Unlike many of the existing state-wide registers, newspapers are included in the FCC’s plans – much to the surprise and anger of the Newspaper Association of America, which is complaining against the decision. Only politicians, religious bodies and charities do not have to use the register, plus in some states insurance companies (which are subject to less federal regulation).

Phone registration began in states west of Mississippi on Friday (extending to the rest of the US from July 7), while online registration will be available at www.donotcall.gov. The FTC expects 60 million numbers to be signed up in the first year, including 14m from existing state schemes. Numbers will stay on the list for five years.

Telemarketers – who must pay $7,250 (€6,350; £4,383) each for a full copy of the register – may call a customer within eighteen months of a previous business transaction or within three months of a consumer-initiated inquiry. They face a fine of up to $11,000 for every violation.

The telemarketing industry is continuing attempts to block the scheme, with the Direct Marketing Association and the American Teleservices Association pursuing lawsuits against the FTC.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff