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What is the do Not Call List?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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The Do Not Call List is a result of US Federal Legislation prohibiting telemarketers from calling people who designate that they do not wish to be called. The Do Not Call List or Registry was established by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2003 and is meant to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act signed into law in 1991.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) arose from the many private citizen complaints about harassment by telemarketers. Even when telemarketers were polite, answering calls from people trying to sell things was often an annoyance. However, the TCPA was often hard to enforce, because you had to receive a call from a telemarketer in order to ask them not to call you. Clearly more had to be done in order to establish legal grounds to prosecute telemarketers who continued to call uninterested private citizens.

By establishing a National Do Not Call List and Registry, people can now unequivocally claim that they do not want to be called by solicitors. A person can prove they do not wish to be called by their registration, and any telemarketer or salesperson calling a private home has a month to take the person off of any call lists. If a name is not removed and calls from the same business continue, citizens can file a report on the offending company. This process is made easier with caller ID, which helps connect phone numbers to registered businesses.

Registering for the Do Not Call List is a very simple procedure. You merely visit the Do Not Call Registry online and input your phone numbers, including cell phones, and an email address. You then receive an email with a link, which you click on in order to confirm your Do Not Call List phone numbers. It takes about a minute to register. By law, telemarketers are not supposed to call cell phones in any case, but it doesn’t hurt to add a cell phone number, just in case.

Some people cannot register for the Do Not Call List. Business lines are exempted from Do Not Call legislation. If you at any time give your permission for businesses to contact you, you may still receiving offending calls even if your name appears on the Do Not Call List. There are also certain companies which can call you in spite of the Do Not Call List.

While the Do Not Call list protects against unsolicited sales calls, companies with which you are already transacting business may call you. For example, your cable company could call and offer you a package deal, or the companies owning newspapers you subscribe to might call to have you renew a subscription. Companies to which you owe money can always contact you, unless you declare bankruptcy, even if your name appears on the Do Not Call List.

Those conducting legitimate surveys are allowed to contact people on the Do Not Call List. Political calls remain exempt too. Some survey companies may not be as legitimate as they seem. If a survey company asks your permission to conduct a follow-up call, and you agree, they may call and try to sell you something. This has been the case with the Dove Foundation, which conducts an apparently legitimate survey and then follows up with a sales call. In some states, legislation prevents groups like the Dove Foundation from acting in this manner.

In 2004, Canada enacted similar legislation to the US, establishing a Do Not Call Registry. In both countries, registry with the list can help prevent incursions on privacy and result in fewer unwanted calls. You can also tell a telemarketer, or a person conducting a survey to remove your name from a call list. This request is supposed to be honored even if you are not registered on the Do Not Call List.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a SmartCapitalMind contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Reminiscence — On Nov 12, 2014

@mrwormy- I used to be a telemarketer, and I can assure you that the Do Not Call list actually exists. Our autodialer system had to filter out any numbers found to be on that list. But what a lot of people don't realize is that the list does have an expiration date. Once your number falls off that Do Not Call list, you become fair game for telemarketers once again.

There are also so many organizations that are exempt from that national Do Not Call list. I worked the phones for a "charity" that collected donations for a firemen's auxiliary fund once. We would send the donors a few official-looking stickers and offer tickets to a local concert. It was a total scam, but the company qualified as a charity, so it was legal to make unsolicited fundraising calls. I remember in the early days, an angry caller would have to ask to be put on a "preferred customer list", not a Do Not Call list. If you didn't specifically mention that list, you didn't get put on it.

By mrwormy — On Nov 11, 2014

Honestly, I'm not convinced the Do Not Call list registry actually exists. I've asked to be put on it many times over the years, but it still feels like I get a lot of unsolicited calls every day. I'll tell the caller that I'm on the national Do Not Call list, but they'll usually tell me their computer says I'm not. I'll then go through the routine again and ask them to put me on the telemarketing Do Not Call list. I'll still get phone calls a week later from the same company, but a different caller.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a SmartCapitalMind contributor, Tricia...
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