National Do Not Call Registry Goes Online

As many of you are probably already aware, the national Do Not Call Registry went online June 27th. If you register your telephone number (residential or mobile), telemarketers will have about 90 days to drop your name from their lists. Violators can be fined up to $11,000. Registration is good for 5 years. Sounds too good to be true, huh?

There are exceptions, of course. The first is political organizations (surprise, surprise). Charities are also off the hook, so to speak. Perhaps those wouldn't be so bad, but long distance phone companies, airlines, banks and insurance companies have all been exempted. In fact, anyone can still call you just as long as they do it under the guise of a survey. Loophole?

There's a lot of theory on who this Do Not Call list will hurt, from unemployed telemarketers (there are 6 million of them) to the telephone companies themselves (104 million telemarketing calls are placed each day). One interesting speculation is that businesses will redirect there efforts to the unregulated world of e-mail and up their spamming efforts. Something makes me think that spam is going to keep going up anyway.

The real travesty, however, is that every one of the 12.5 numbers registered on the Do Not Call list have already been forwarded to every telemarketer. The telemarketers have 90 days to remove those numbers from their own lists. However, until that point, they can call you as often as they want. And, if they establish a loosely defined "business relationship" with you, they don't have to stop.

If you were signed up on the Massachusetts list, your numbers are already on the national list. Massachusetts will continue to maintain its own list. For the moment, the safest play may be to sign up for both lists as the more restrictive rules will apply. However, don't expect a windfall of silence to ensue. In fact, for the sort term at least, you may find your phone ringing more.

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