The new US-wide ‘do-not-call’ telemarketing register is off to a flying start, with 635,000 Americans signing up in the first fourteen hours.

Phone registration began in states west of the Mississippi river on Friday (extending to the rest of the US from July 7), and consumers can also sign up online. The website was receiving 1,000 hits a second by Friday lunchtime, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which is rushing to find more computer equipment to handle the traffic.

The news will heighten fears of telemarketers that the scheme will ruin their business. Both the Direct Marketing Association and the American Teleservices Association are pursuing lawsuits against the FTC.

Launching the register, president George Bush declared: “Unwanted telemarketing calls are intrusive, they are annoying, and they're all too common. We're taking practical action to address this problem.”

The FTC believes as many as 60 million numbers will be added in the first twelve months. Thirteen states, accounting for 8.1m numbers, plan to transfer their existing do-not-call lists to the national scheme.

Telemarketers must begin removing numbers on the register from their call lists from October 1, with each breach incurring a fine of up to $11,000 (€9,622; £6,672). The FTC estimates that the scheme will block around 80% of marketing calls.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff