FTC: Do Not Call Registry

By Bridget Maiellaro

Members of the Calvary College Group Chat, a college group at Calvary Church in Wheeling, Ill., received an e-mail April 21 stating that cell phone numbers will be distributed to telemarketing companies in less than a month. The email informed group members that in order to prevent this from happening, they must register their number on the National Do Not Call list.

David Robbins, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission in the Bureau of Consumer Protection, said that the rumors are false.

“Part of the issues is that it’s like any Internet rumor,” he said. “When you get the information from someone you know, you are more willing to believe it’s true.”

“(A teacher) sent an e-mail to the staff telling us that we should register,” said Jane Park, wife of the Calvary Church’s pastor. “I went onto the site, saw that it was managed by the FTC and then sent out the e-mail to our college group.”

Robbins urges everyone to treat such e-mails like other junk mail they receive and delete it.

He believes that another problem is that the National Do Not Call Registry Web site is a legitimate Web site that consumers visit, believing that since the Web site exists the e-mail they received must be true.

The National Do Not Call Registry, directed by the Federal Trade Commission, was designed to give consumers a choice of whether they want telemarketers to call them at home. Telemarketers should stop calling registered numbers after they have been in the system for 31 days, according to the Web site. The registered numbers will be in the system for 5 years.

“The Web site is not set up to identify the differences between land line numbers, fax numbers, business numbers or cell phone numbers,” Clark said.

The Federal Communications Commission regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers, according to the Federal Trade Commissions’ Web site.

“I think the problem is that a lot of people are just unaware of what the rules are,” said Brianna Clark, spokeswoman for the American Teleservices Association.

“Telemarketers cannot call consumers on their cell phones without their permission, regardless of it they get a list with that information,” Robbins said.

He said that it is hard to know where the rumors that started a little over a year ago stemmed from. He feels that it was just a misunderstanding.

“We just want to let consumers know that the rumors are absolutely false,” Robbins said. “They just need to simply delete them.”

Although it is not necessary to register cell phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, Robbins and Clark both said that doing so does not hurt the consumer.

“If anyone feels that they are getting calls that they don’t want to get, they can register on-line or call our toll free number.”