You arrive home in the evening after a long day at work and sit down to dinner or your favorite chair in the living room ready to watch your favorite television program in peace. Suddenly the phone rings. Who could it be? Perhaps it is an emergency with a friend of family member. If have not brought the phone to your location, you trudge over and look at the caller ID or go ahead and answer the phone. “Hello, could I speak to Mr. Smith?”

You know what is coming next. It is either the cable company trying to get you to upgrade your package or some other organization that got your name and number from something you filled out in a doctor’s office or retail outlet.

Why do they always call in the evening? Well, they know that is when they are most likely to catch you at home. Actually, they do call during the day also, but those are typically the robot message type calls. And those are just as annoying if you happen to be at home and let them go to your answering machine. They will start a recorded message and then try to interact with you by telling you to press a number on the keypad even though you are not on the phone. TheyNational Do Not Call Registry: What it Does and How to Get on ItCredit: Opensource it keeps repeating “I’m sorry, I did not get your response”. This can go on for 2 minutes or more before the automated call finally gives up.

An intrusive phone call can ruin your mood and it is invasive. Think about it, they are coming into your home and trying to sell you something or get you to donate something to someone. There really is no difference between that and someone showing up at your door and trying to sell you something like frozen meat or looking for a donation for a religious organization.

A decade ago, the Federal Trade Commission developed a national Do-Not-Call Registry which is supposed to apply to all telemarketers. They are not allowed to call you if your name and number appear on that list. That is how it is supposed to work in theory but as you will see, there are many loopholes.

How to Get on the No Call List for Phones

The FTC established a website ( that allows you to enter various phone numbers for free. They stay on the list until you remove them or discontinue service. Telemarketers are required to update their database of telephone numbers once every 31 days and remove any numbers that appear on the list.

In addition to requiring telemarketers to remove you from their lists if appropriate, they must also never call before 8 AM and after 9 PM, send their Caller ID information so that the recipient can identify them before they answer, and identify themselves on the line.[1]

Anyone can register their residential landline or their wireless number by telephone or by Internet.

  • By Internet:
  • By Phone: 1-888-382-1222

However, the law has many loopholes so registering does not prevent those annoying calls in the evening.

Situations the Do-Not-Call Registry Does Not Cover

As I stated previously, there are many loopholes in the law. You can imagine that industry lobbyist were hard at work in DC gutting the original law that was proposed.

  • Prior Business Relationships – if you have a business relationship with a company such as your cable provider or long distance provider, they are exempt from trying to sell you on an upgrade.
  • Prior Written Consent – if you have ever filled out any information for contests of information forms, often times those are exempted in the fine print. You are given them written permission just by submitting the form
  • Non-commercial call with ads – if you gave once to a charity and filled out a donation form with your name and address, unfortunately, they will call you endlessly to try to get another donation.
  • Tax-exempt, non-profits – These types of organization, or someone calling on their behalf, are exempt from the registry.

Does the Do Not Call list really work?

How to File a Do-Not-Call Complaint

If any of the situations above have been violated, you can file a complaint with the FCC in National Do Not Call Registry: What it Does and How to Get on ItCredit: Opensourceseveral ways:

  • By Telephone: 1-888-CALL-FCC
  • By Fax: 1-866-418-0232
  • By Internet:
  • By Mail:  

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

When filing a complaint, you will need to list the following information[1]:

  • Name and Address
  • Number you received the call
  • Name of the company or individual and the phone number associated with the call
  • A brief description of the call
  • Any opt out phone numbers
  • If you gave prior permission to call you
  • If you have a previous business association with the company

How Does the Registry Perform?

National Do Not Call Registry: What it Does and How to Get on It
Credit: Cantarata via Wikimedia Commons

Not very well in my opinion. There are a lot of situations that do not apply. If you have a relationship with a credit card company, a cable or phone company, a church or a charitable organization, they can legally still call you.

However, that does not mean you should not go to the website and enter all of your landline and mobile numbers. It only takes a minute and it is free.

What registering will do is prevent the telemarketing data miners from buying phone lists from some organization and using it to pitch their annoying sales. They must compare that list once a month to the Do-Not-Call Registry and remove any matches. That will get rid of the most annoying types of calls.

For the others, they usually provide opt out conditions. For instance, you can address this with any credit card providers you have usually on your online account with them. Companies are required to have their own internal do not call list.

While the registry is not perfect by any means, it will stop some of the most annoying calls. The others you will have to address on a case-by-case basis with the company.