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If I’m a telemarketer or seller, will these
questions and answers tell me what I need to know
about complying with the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
do not call regulations?
It is important that sellers and others involved in
telemarketing recognize that both the FTC and the
FCC regulate telemarketing practices. This site deals
with the do not call provisions of the Telemarketing
Sales Rule (TSR) enforced by the FTC. You can review
the FCC’s regulations at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-153A1.pdf.
What is the National Do Not Call Registry?
The National Do Not Call Registry is a list of phone
numbers from consumers who have indicated their preference
to limit the telemarketing calls they receive. The
registry is managed by the FTC, the nation’s
consumer protection agency. It will be enforced by
the FTC, the FCC, and state officials.
Why was the National Do Not Call Registry created?
The registry was created to offer
consumers a choice regarding telemarketing calls.
The FTC’s decision to create the National
Do Not Call Registry was the culmination of a comprehensive,
three-year review of the Telemarketing Sales Rule,
as well as the FTC’s extensive experience
enforcing the Rule in the previous seven years.
The FTC also held numerous workshops, meetings and
briefings to solicit feedback from interested parties,
and considered more than 64,000 public comments,
most of which favored creating the registry. You
can review the entire record of the Rule review
Coverage Under the TSR
What calls are covered?
The do not call provisions of the TSR cover any plan,
program or campaign to sell goods or services through
interstate phone calls. This includes calls by telemarketers
who solicit consumers, often on behalf of third party
sellers. It also includes sellers who are paid to
provide, offer to provide, or arrange to provide goods
or services to consumers.
What types of calls are not covered by the National
Do Not Call Registry?
The do not call provisions do not cover calls from
political organizations, charities, telephone surveyors,
or companies with which a consumer has an existing
Do the do not call provisions of the TSR cover calls
soliciting money for charities?
Charities are not covered by the requirements of the
national registry. However, if a third-party telemarketer
is calling on behalf of a charity, a consumer may
ask not to receive any more calls from or on behalf
of that specific charity. If a third-party telemarketer
calls again on behalf of that charity, the telemarketer
may be subject to a fine of up to $11,000.
Do the do not call provisions of the TSR cover political
No. Political solicitations are not covered by the
TSR at all, since they are not included in its definition
If a call includes a telephone survey and a sales
pitch, is it covered?
Yes. Callers purporting to take a survey, but also
offering to sell goods or services, must comply with
the do not call provisions. But if the call is for
the sole purpose of conducting a survey, it is exempt.
How does the established business relationship provision
work for a consumer whose number is on the registry?
For a consumer whose number is on the registry: A
company with which a consumer has an established business
relationship may call for up to 18 months after the
consumer’s last purchase or last delivery, or
last payment, unless the consumer asks the company
not to call again. In that case, the company must
honor the request not to call. If the company calls
again, it may be subject to a fine of up to $11,000.
If a consumer makes an inquiry
or submits an application to a company, the company
can call for three months. Once again, if the consumer
makes a specific request to that company not to
call, the company may not call, even if it has an
established business relationship with the consumer.
A consumer whose number is not
on the national registry can still prohibit individual
telemarketers from calling by asking to be put on
the company’s own do not call list.
Who can access the national registry?
Access to the national registry is limited to sellers,
telemarketers and other service providers. Sellers
are companies that provide, offer to provide, or arrange
for others to provide goods or services to a customer
in return for some type of payment as part of a telemarketing
transaction. Telemarketers are companies that make
telephone calls to consumers on behalf of sellers.
Service providers are companies that offer services
to sellers engaged in telemarketing transactions,
such as providing lists of telephone numbers to call,
or removing telephone numbers from the sellers’
Some sellers are exempt from the FTC’s Rules,
but are required to access the registry under the
FCC’s Rules. Other sellers (charities and political
organizations) are exempt from accessing the national
registry under both agencies’ rules. These exempt
sellers still may access the registry voluntarily,
and do not have to pay a fee for that access. They
must, however, submit appropriate certification information
to gain access to the registry.
Can I use numbers on the registry for any purpose
other than preventing telemarketing calls?
No. The registry may not be used for any purpose other
than preventing telemarketing calls to the telephone
numbers on the registry. Any entity that accesses
the national registry will be required to certify,
under penalty of law, that it is accessing the registry
solely to comply with the TSR or to prevent calls
to numbers on the registry.
How can I access the registry?
The FTC is preparing a fully-automated and secure
Web site at www.telemarketing.donotcall.gov to provide
members of the telemarketing industry with access
to the registry’s database of telephone numbers,
sorted by area code. [That Web site is NOT yet available.]
The first time you access the registry, you must provide
identifying information about you and your company.
If you are a telemarketer or service provider accessing
the registry on behalf of your seller-clients, you
will be required to identify your seller-clients and
provide their unique account numbers. The only consumer
information available from the registry is telephone
numbers. After you (or the company telemarketing on
your behalf) have accessed the registry the first
time, you’ll have the option of downloading
only changes in the data that have occurred since
the last time you accessed the registry.
When can I access the National Do Not Call Registry?
The National Do Not Call Registry will be available
to the telemarketing industry September 1, 2003. Enforcement
of the National Do Not Call Registry begins October
1, 2003. Companies required to access the registry
and remove the numbers on the registry from their
calling lists must do so by October 1, 2003, to be
What information must I provide to access the registry?
The first time you access the system, you will be
asked to provide certain limited identifying information,
such as your company name and address, contact person,
and the contact person’s telephone number and
email address. If you are accessing the registry on
behalf of a seller-client, you also will have to identify
How often will I have to access the registry and
remove numbers from my calling list?
After October 1, 2003, you will have to synchronize
your lists with an updated version of the registry
every three months.
How often may I download data from the national
You will be able to access data as often as you like
during the course of your annual period for those
area codes for which they have paid. However, to protect
system integrity, you may download data files from
the national registry only once in any 24-hour period.
What information can I access from the national
The only consumer information that companies will
receive from the national registry is registrants’
telephone numbers. The numbers will be sorted and
available by area code. Companies will be able to
access as many area codes as desired (and paid for),
by selecting, for example, all area codes within a
certain state. Of course, companies also will be able
to access the entire national registry.
May I check just a few numbers at a time to see
if they are registered?
Companies that have provided the required identification
information and certification, and paid the appropriate
fee (if they want to access more than five area codes)
will be allowed to check a small number of telephone
numbers (10 or less) at a time via interactive Internet
pages. This will permit small volume callers to comply
with the do not call requirements of the TSR without
having to download a potentially large list of all
registered telephone numbers within a particular area.
What format will the registry use?
Data will be available from the national registry
using Internet-based formats and download methods
that serve both small and large businesses. Data also
will be available in three different sets: full lists,
change lists, and small list look-ups. Full lists
and change lists will be available as flat files or
XML tagged data files. You will indicate your preference
for flat files or XML tagged data files as part of
With a Web browser, you will access a secure Web page
that will allow you to select the download set that
you prefer. For the small list lookup, you will be
asked to enter from one to 10 telephone numbers on
an online form. After entering the numbers and clicking
a button, the national registry will display the list
of numbers you entered and whether each number is
in the national registry.
You will be limited to the numbers in the area code(s)
to which you have subscribed. The full list will contain
just 10-digit telephone numbers, with a single number
on each line. For the change list in flat file format,
each line of the file will contain a telephone number,
the date of the change, and an “A” (for
Added) or “D” (for Deleted). The change
list data will be fixed-width fields.
For those who select XML tagged data, the XML tags
will include: a login and encrypted password; the
name and email address of the company contact person;
certification that access to the registry is solely
to comply with the provisions of the TSR; the account
number(s) for which the download is being performed;
and whether a full list or change list is to be downloaded.
For both flat files and XML tagged data, if you select
a change list, you will be provided all telephone
numbers that have been added to, or deleted from,
the registry since the date of your previous access.
Change lists, for both flat files and XML tagged data,
will be available to provide changes on a daily basis
(representing the additions and deletions from the
To assist in automating the download process, the
national registry will offer the option to set up
Web services for requesting change lists in XML tagged
How much does it cost to access the registry?
Data for up to five area codes will be available for
free. Beyond that, there is an annual fee of $25 per
area code of data, with a maximum annual fee of $7,375
for the entire U.S. database.
How often will I have to pay a fee?
The fee must be paid annually. Payment of the fee
provides access to the data for an “annual period,”
which is defined as the twelve months following the
first day of the month in which the seller paid the
fee. For example, a seller who pays its annual fee
on September 15, 2003, has an “annual period”
that runs from September 1, 2003 through August 31,
Who must pay the fee?
All sellers covered by the TSR must pay the appropriate
fee for an area code of data before they call, or
cause a telemarketer to call, any consumer within
that area code, even those consumers whose telephone
numbers are not on the registry. The only exceptions
are for sellers that call only consumers with which
they have an existing business relationship or written
agreement to call, and do not access the national
registry for any other purpose. Charities and political
organizations that voluntarily want to access the
national registry to prevent calling consumers whose
numbers are on the registry may access the registry
at no cost.
Telemarketers and service providers may access the
registry, at no cost, through the use of their seller-client’s
unique account number. Even though they are not required
by law to do so, telemarketers and service providers
may gain access to the national registry on their
own behalf, but they must pay a separate fee for that
ability. But before placing calls on behalf of a seller-client,
telemarketers are required to ensure that their seller-client
has paid the appropriate annual fee.
How can I pay the fee?
Fees will be payable via credit card (which will permit
the transfer of data in the same session, if the payment
is approved) or electronic funds transfer (EFT). EFT
will require you to wait approximately three days
for the funds to clear before data access will be
provided. You must pay the fee prior to gaining access
to the registry. Sellers and exempt entities can pay
the fee directly or through their telemarketers or
service providers (to which the seller or exempt entity
has provided the necessary authority).
What if I pay for a small number of area codes,
and then later in the year expand my business to call
more area codes? Will I have to pay twice?
If you need to access data from more area codes than
you initially selected, you may do so, but you will
have to pay for access to those additional area codes.
Obtaining additional data from the registry during
the first six months of your annual period will require
a payment of $25 for each new area code. During the
second six month period, the charge to obtain data
from each new area code is $15. Payment for additional
data provides you with access to the additional data
for the remainder of your annual period.
What happens after I pay for access?
After payment is processed, you will be given a unique
account number and permitted access to the appropriate
portions of the registry. Using that account number
in future visits to the Web site will speed the time
needed for access. On subsequent visits to the Web
site, you will be able to download either a full updated
list of numbers from your selected area codes, or
a more limited list, consisting of changes to the
registry (both additions and deletions) that have
occurred since the day of your last download. This
limits the amount of data that you need to download
during each visit. The change file will consist of
each telephone number that has changed, whether it
was added or deleted, and the date of the change.
If I’m a telemarketer or service provider
working for a seller, can I use the seller’s
account number to access the registry?
A telemarketer or other service provider working on
behalf of a seller may access the registry directly
or through the use of its seller-client’s unique
account number. If access is gained through its seller-client’s
account number, the telemarketer or service provider
will not have to pay a separate fee for that access.
The extent of its access will be limited to the area
codes requested and paid for by its seller-client.
The telemarketer or service provider also will be
permitted to access the registry at no additional
cost, once the annual fee has been paid by its seller-client.
Of course, sellers or telemarketers must use a version
of the registry that’s no more than three months
old before they make any telemarketing calls.
If a telemarketer or service provider is accessing
the registry directly, that is, if a telemarketer
or service provider decides to obtain the information
on its own behalf, it will have to pay a separate
fee and comply with all requirements placed on sellers
accessing the registry. Such a telemarketer or service
provider will be provided an account number that can
be used only by that company. In other words, that
account number is not transferrable.
What if a seller uses one telemarketer at the beginning
of the year and switches to another later in the year?
Will the seller have to pay twice?
No. Each seller will have a unique account number
that it can give to the telemarketers and service
providers who may access the registry on the seller’s
What happens to companies that don’t pay for
access the registry?
A company that is a seller or telemarketer could be
liable for placing any telemarketing calls (even to
numbers NOT on the registry) unless the seller has
paid the required fee for access to the registry.
Violators may be subject to fines of up to $11,000
per violation. Each call may be considered a separate
What if I call a number that’s not on the
registry without checking the registry first?
It’s against the law to call (or cause a telemarketer
to call) any number on the registry (unless the seller
has an established business relationship with the
consumer whose number is being called, or the consumer
has given written agreement to be called). But it’s
also against the law for a seller to call (or cause
a telemarketer to call) any person whose number is
within a given area code unless the seller first has
paid the annual fee for access to the portion of the
registry that includes numbers within that area code.
In addition, it’s against the law for a telemarketer,
calling on behalf of a seller, to call any person
whose number is within a given area code unless the
seller has first paid the annual fee for access to
the portion of the registry that includes numbers
within that area code. Telemarketers must make sure
that their seller-clients have paid for access to
the registry before placing any telemarketing calls
on their behalf.
What’s my liability if my company inadvertently
calls a number on the registry?
The TSR has a “safe harbor” for inadvertent
mistakes. If a seller or telemarketer can show that,
as part of its routine business practice, it meets
all the requirements of the safe harbor, it will not
be subject to civil penalties or sanctions for mistakenly
calling a consumer who has asked for no more calls,
or for calling a person on the registry. To meet the
safe harbor requirements, the seller or telemarketer
must demonstrate that:
it has written procedures to comply with the
do not call requirements
it trains its personnel in those procedures
it monitors and enforces compliance with these
it maintains a company-specific list of telephone
numbers that it may not call
it accesses the national registry no more than
three months before calling any consumer, and
maintains records documenting this process
any call made in violation of the do not call
rules was the result of an error.
How do the registries operated by the FTC, the FCC
and the various States fit together?
On June 26, 2003, the FCC announced that it was joining
the FTC in creating and enforcing one national registry.
Together, the FTC and the FCC have jurisdiction over
nearly all sales calls placed to U.S. consumers.
Over half the States currently administer their own
do not call lists. Most of these states will add the
numbers on their registries to the National Do Not
Call Registry. However, the TSR does NOT preempt state
law, so sellers, telemarketers, and others who do
telemarketing will have to check with various states
to determine what is required for compliance at the
state level. For information about the FCC’s
telemarketing regulations, visit the FCC’s Web
site at www.fcc.gov. A full copy of the FCC’s
regulations can be found at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-153A1.pdf.
The FTC and FCC are working to harmonize state and
federal do not call laws. The goal is to achieve a
single national registry for the convenience and efficiency
of consumers as well as businesses.
What if I have problems when I try to access the
Where can I get more information about compliance?
The best source of information about complying with
the do not call provisions of the TSR is the FTC’s
Web site at www.ftc.gov/donotcall.
It includes business information about the registry.
You can view the entire TSR at that site.
It’s important that sellers and others involved
in telemarketing recognize that both the FTC and the
FCC regulate telemarketing practices. Those involved
in telemarketing should review regulations put in
place by both agencies. The FCC’s regulations
may be found at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-03-153A1.pdf.
The FTC works for the consumer
to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business
practices in the marketplace and to provide information
to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. The FTC
manages the National Do Not Call Registry, which gives
consumers a choice about getting telemarketing calls
at home. To register a number, log on to DONOTCALL.GOV,
or call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222; TTY 1-866-290-4236.
Your Opportunity to Comment
The National Small Business Ombudsman and 10 Regional Fairness
Boards collect comments from small businesses about federal compliance and enforcement
activities. Each year, the Ombudsman evaluates the conduct of these activities
and rates each agency's responsiveness to small businesses. Small businesses
can comment to the Ombudsman without fear of reprisal. To comment, call toll-free
1-888-REGFAIR (1-888-734-3247) or go to www.sba.gov/ombudsman.