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Making the Do-Not-Call List Permanent?

(Oct. 1, 2007) With many telephone numbers about to drop off the national do-not-call list, Congress has introduced legislation to make enrollment on the registry permanent.

Under current law, numbers on the do-not-call list are removed after five years, requiring individuals to sign up again. Numbers that were added to the list when it was first created in June 2003 will be dropping off the list in 2008.

AFP successfully fought for an exemption for charitable organizations and their third-party fundraisers from the do-not-call list. However, they must still comply with individual requests to have their names removed from a nonprofit’s call list, as well as other requirements (see below). Political and survey organizations are also exempt, while companies with an established business relationship with an individual may call for up to 18 months after the last payment or delivery.

The Federal Trade Commission argues that requiring individuals to sign up again for the registry is important to keep the registry up-to-date because phone numbers may have changed. However, several members of Congress have expressed concern that the public would have to go through the process of enrolling on the registry again when it’s clear that they don’t want to receive telemarketing calls anymore.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) have introduced legislation in the Senate and the House of Representatives that would make enrollment on the registry permanent. Under the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 3541 and S. 2096), all names currently on the registry would remain there indefinitely until a person requested that his or her name be removed.

More than 149 million phone numbers are now on the do-not-call list. More information about the list, including how to register home and cell phone numbers, as well as file complaints, can be found at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

Telemarketing Regulations

While charities and their representatives are exempt from the do-not-call list, they are still subject to certain requirements of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (the rule is the larger regulation of which the do-not-call list is a part). These obligations include:

  • Disclosing the name of the organization on whose behalf the call and request is being made
  • Disclosing that the purpose of the call is a charitable solicitation
  • Prohibiting misrepresentations of what the charity does, how the contribution will be used and how much money is spent on programs and costs (among other disclosures)
  • Honoring entity-specific “do-not-call” requests, such as when individuals ask that a particular charity not contact them.

As these requirements closely mirror AFP’s Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice, the association supported these provisions.

More information about the Telemarketing Sales Rules can be found here.

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