FTC Issues Biennial Report to Congress On Status of National Do Not Call Registry

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The Federal Trade Commission in a biennial report to Congress told federal lawmakers that more than 8 million phone numbers were added to the National Do Not Call Registry in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, bringing to over 209 million the total number of active registrations on the registry, which launched in 2003.

The report was required by The Do-Not-Call Registry Fee Extension Act of 2007. It said that during FY 2011, over 35,000 sellers, telemarketers, and exempt organizations subscribed to access the registry and that more than 3,000 of those entities paid subscription fees totalling over $13.7 million.

Given technology changes, the FTC said that its subcontractors are working with wireless and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers to determine which numbers have been disconnected and reassigned and thus should be removed from the registry. Additionally, “all consumer services for the Registry have been made available via mobile devices[,]” the agency said.

The FTC did not issue a companion enforcement report as it did with its December 2009 report to Congress.

However, the agency's National Do Not Call Registry Data Book, issued Nov. 30, indicated that the number of consumer complaints about unwanted telemarketing calls has been on the rise.

Exploitation of Business Relationship Rule.

Under the amended Telemarketing Sale Rule (TSR) and the Federal Communication Commission rules, a seller or telemarketer may call a person who has listed his or her telephone numbers on the registry if the seller has an “established business relationship” with that person.

According to the report, some businesses have attempted to exploit this exemption by calling numbers acquired through “lead generators,”even though those individuals have not had the requisite contact with the seller. The FTC reported the same problem in its December 2009 report.

Another way business have tried to circumvent the registry, the FTC said, is by contacting individuals using sweepstakes entry forms.

Neither situation generally creates an established business relationship, the agency said. In several enforcement actions, such businesses have agreed to pay civil penalties, the FTC reported.