The “Do Not Call” list exceptions
The national “Do Not Call” registry is a list of numbers that have requested not to be disturbed by unwanted phone calls. Since its public inception in 2003, over 221 million numbers have been added. Putting your number on the list is the first step towards legally protecting yourself against unsolicited sales, spam, and robocalls.
What calls are exempt from the “Do Not Call” list?
There are some types of calls that are undesired by consumers but aren’t illegal. These calls, while annoying, are typically informational. For the most part, if the call does not contain an overt sales pitch, it will be allowed to go through. Let’s look at the common types of calls and where they stand on the registry:
|The “Do Not Call” list exemptions||Calls that are not allowed|
How to put myself on the “Do Not Call” list
The “Do Not Call” list makes all non-government approved phone calls from companies towards you illegal. Once you add your number, it stays permanently on the list unless you request otherwise. You can add your number in one of these three ways:
- Online — Register it at this link
- Via Phone — Call 1-888-382-1222
- Hearing-impaired — TeleTypewriter 1-866-290-4236
If you receive an unwanted phone call while on the list, you have the right to sue the company that called you for the disturbance. However, you must demand compensation yourself. The list does not enforce the law automatically.
How to sue companies for unwanted phone calls
Although compensation can go as high as $3,000, suing companies for unsolicited calls used to be very inconvenient. Many spam callers, especially those working outside the law, were using this to their advantage. It could take you up to an entire workday to gather all the necessary information, and you’d still need to pay a lawyer to process it. This proved to be a lot of work and wasn’t worth it to most people, all things considered. DoNotPay is here to change that. Our newest feature, Robo Revenge, can do all the necessary preparations in just a few minutes for FREE. Popular news outlets such as The Sun have already reported on the app. Here’s how easily it’s done:
- Open the DoNotPay web app
- Use Robo Revenge to add your number to the “Do Not Call” registry
- Issue yourself a virtual credit card using DoNotPay
- When you get a caller asking for your payment information, give them the virtual credit card
- If they attempt to charge it, DoNotPay will get their information
- Robo Revenge can then be used to generate and send a letter demanding compensation
If your compensation demand isn’t met, you can use DoNotPay’s option to sue them in small claims court, now that you have their company information.
Does the “Do Not Call” list apply to politicians?
With the U.S. presidential election primaries underway, you may have noticed an increase in calls with political agendas. Whether you are interested in politics or not, you should know that these calls are not ruled out by the “Do Not Call” registry. You may have to endure a little more of “Do you plan to vote?”, “Who is your favorite to win?” and “Do your friends and family support the same candidate?”. Then again, no one is stopping you from hanging up. Just don’t expect compensation for these calls. In 2008 Citizens for Civil Discourse (CCD) tried to revoke political calls from the “Do Not Call” exceptions list. While this demand was popular among citizens, it’s not hard to imagine why it didn’t pass through Congress.
Will I be getting public service announcements?
Regardless of the topic, announcements deemed of interest to the public are allowed through the “Do Not Call” list. It doesn’t matter if the caller is a person or a prerecorded message. Generally, if a PSA call does come your way, it likely means it’s about something happening near your location. You won’t be receiving PSAs for things that don’t concern you. Some examples of these calls would be:
- Dangerous weather warnings, such as incoming tornadoes or hurricanes
- Health and safety announcements, such as virus spreading prevention
- Closing of major roads, such as highways
- Calls for evacuation
Will important informational calls directed at me be stopped?
You won’t have to worry about missing valuable informational calls. If a call is carrying information from a service or company you use, it is allowed to go through. For example:
- An automatic call from a clinic reminding you of an upcoming doctor’s appointment
- Airlines calling to inform you that your flight has been delayed or canceled
- Customer service calls informing you about changes in terms and conditions
Are charities exempt from “Do Not Call”?
Registered charities and non-profit organizations are allowed to conduct campaign calls, both to raise awareness and ask for contributions. That being said, be aware that scam charities exist. If you express your interest, but then feel like you’re being pressured into giving money on the phone call, you should hang up and look up the charity. If you see a phone number, contact them to see if they’ve been conducting a fundraiser over the phone. If someone claiming to be calling on behalf of a charity is asking for your payment information over the phone, that’s a red flag. Real charities will never ask you to give them money right then and there. They’ll be more than happy to inform you about the terms and conditions and tell you how you can donate yourself. Usually, they will give a public bank account to which you can make a donation or a P.O. box where you can send a check or money order. Alternatively, they might offer you to attend their fundraising event. Never give out your information over the phone.
What about public surveys, polls, etc?
Survey calls are not illegal, although it’s always your choice if you want to participate or not. If you’re not interested, just say as much, and they will let you go. If the person is insisting you take the survey, they might be fishing for other information. Take it as a red flag and hang up. Beware of surveys that ask you if they’re allowed to forward your number or schedule a follow-up call. There have been known scams that use fake survey calls to shorten their list of targets. For example, they may be targeting a specific age range or financial status. Most surveys and polls, unless the reason is specified, do not require your personal information. If you’re asked for things like your full name, birth date, where you live, etc., feel free to ask why these things are necessary.
What are the laws surrounding the “Do Not Call” list
The first implemented law that gave customers rights against modern unsolicited calls was the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). Under this law companies were, among other things, required to:
- Not call before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. in local time
- Have a company-specific Do-Not-Call (DNC) list of consumers who requested not to be called
- Provide their name, on behalf of whom they’re calling and contact information of their business at the beginning of the call
If a company ignores a consumer's decision not to be called, the individual could sue them for compensation. The law proved useful in the beginning, when telemarketing was still emerging.
However, as telemarketing calls grew, individuals soon realized that having to request to be blacklisted every time a new company calls them was too much. They wanted to prevent the calls from happening in the first place.
In 2003, the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act was adopted. What it did was open the “Do Not Call” list to the general public for registration. Companies were no longer required to make their own blacklists. Instead, they had access to a government-regulated database of numbers that requested not to be called. This seemed like a great idea in the early 2000s, when cell phones were in their infancy, and people still used landlines predominantly.
As time went on, and new technology emerged, the flaws in regulation against spam calls were getting exposed. In a short period, cell phones became predominant. The number of targets for telemarketing companies expanded from every household to every individual in that household. The technology for conducting telemarketing calls also became more efficient in time. With the number of calls being conducted becoming too large to regulate, more and more illegal calls started popping up. This leads us to the present day, when our phone numbers are easily targetable, and robocalls are rampant.
The newest piece of legislation passed to try and combat unsolicited calls is the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. The law took effect as of 2020 and aims to strengthen the regulations already in place. Some of the nuances regarding the bill include:
- Increased fines
- Faster issuing of punishment
- Tighter communication between cell phone networks
- Cooperation between the government and phone service providers
The main targets of the legislation are spoofed (fake) numbers and robocalls who often use them. To combat them, the government expects all cell phone network providers to implement new technology regarding caller identification. This is done under what is known as the SHAKEN/STIR Standard.
The regulation requires all networks to verify their numbers to each other when sending out or receiving a call. To put it in simple terms: when a number outside your network and not in your contact list tries to call you, your service provider will ask it to “verify” its origin. If none of the networks claim the number that’s trying to call you as theirs and authentic, it's marked as spam, and the call will not go through. This type of filter will be mandatory and must be without direct extra cost to consumers. In March of 2019, Comcast and AT & T claimed to have successfully tested this protocol.
Will I stop getting called by collection agencies?
Despite being third-party, private companies asking for you to pay something, collection agencies can still call you. Their annoying calls are regulated differently, though. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is there to ensure that collection agencies aren’t abusive. They cannot threaten you, use profound language, or call you repeatedly in short time periods. They cannot call before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. unless agreed upon upfront. They mustn’t call you during your working hours if you provide them. Most importantly, you can send a letter to the collectors asking them to stop calling you, and they have to comply. Remember to keep a copy of the letter with you for future reference, if needed.
Does the “Do Not Call” list apply to businesses?
Unfortunately no. Business phone lines, as well as fax numbers, are not protected by the “Do Not Call” list. Currently, it only supports private numbers. That being said, businesses aren’t a frequent target for unsolicited calls. There’s a much higher risk in reaching out to companies than individuals. A business is more likely to go through an investigation of the call, and the penalties to spam callers could be much higher.
Who has the authority to implement the “Do Not Call” rules?
The “Do Not Call” list is maintained under federal regulations. The Federal Trades Commission (FTC) created the registry to comply with new laws introduced through the DO-NOT-CALL Implementation Act of 2003. The ruling of the “Do Not Call” list is being regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Their job is to make sure the rules are being applied and finding new ways to protect consumers. They were given even more authority under the TRACED Act, with added responsibility, such as faster action.
Cell phone service providers are also crucial in the fight against spam calls. Customers often come to them for help first. Most networks have signed agreements with the government to assist in protecting customers and enforce the rules whenever they can. For example, if a number from their network is consistently being reported for unwanted calls, they will issue penalties such as suspensions or indefinite disconnection.
Consumers can take matters into their own hands. Waiting for government bodies or private companies to fix the issue has proven pointless. Everybody can enforce their rights from the “Do Not Call” list by demanding compensation or suing the company that called them. Robo Revenge is here to make that easy for you.
What are the national “Do Not Call” list rules?
The “Do Not Call” list is not just there to assist with illegal calls. There are specific rules that apply to consumers and companies using it, to make the list effective and fair to use. Here’s a quick rundown of the rules to use the “Do Not Call” list:
|Rules for consumers||Rules for companies|
How frequently must companies access and update their “Do Not Call” registry?
Once you add your number to the registry, it will be added within a day. However, it may take up to 31 days for it to take full effect. This is because companies that use the “Do Not Call” list are required to update their databases every 31 days. In the meantime, they may have a previous list without your number on it. That means that if they call you, it won’t be considered illegal. Even if you were to report the call, you wouldn’t receive compensation for it. Of course, you can always ask the company calling you to blacklist your number. If 31 days or more have passed, and you receive a call, feel free to use Robo Revenge to cash in on it.
What else does DoNotPay do
Robo Revenge is just one of DoNotPay’s excellent features. The app has already helped its customers to:
- Sue any company or individual in small claims court
- Avoid surprise auto-renewals and recurring charges with our virtual credit card
- Cancel any subscription or service you no longer use
- Skip customer care phone queues by waiting in line for you
- Schedule faster DMV appointments
- Demand compensation for delayed and canceled flights
- Dispute parking tickets
- Challenge traffic tickets
- Overturn speeding tickets
For more information about DoNotPay’s services, you can check out our free learning center page.