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What is 1-800-Do-Not-Call?
1-800-Do-Not-Call is a phone number that is held by a small private company, 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc.
Is the phone number used by the Federal Government for the National Do-Not-Call registry?
No. 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. assisted the Federal Government with the creation of the National Do-Not-Call registry and participated in the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC's) request for information. However, the FTC has elected to use a different number (1-888-382-1222).
What makes the 1-800-Do-Not-Call phone number so special?
It's a phone number that consumers can easily remember, primarily because "Do Not Call" has been branded by the federal and state governments for over 20 years. Only a handful of "1-800 numbers" are able to describe the service or product that is provided. 1-800-Flowers and 1-800-Lawyers are two examples. A study conducted by Wharton professors found the 1-800-Do-Not-Call phone number is the most memorable number for the National Do Not Call Registry of the numbers studied, and that 2/3rds of Americans were highly likely to sign up for the registry "given the chance."
Why doesn't the Federal Government use the phone number for the National Do-Not-Call list?
1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. attempted to negotiate a licensing agreement with the Federal Trade Commission for the use of this number. After repeated failed attempts, and prior to the implementation of the registry in 2003, 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. even offered the number to the FTC for free. The FTC's representative, David Torok, refused to accept the number.
So, what makes this a big deal?
The Wharton study suggests that the size of the Do Not Call registry is directly related to the ability of consumers to remember the Do Not Call phone number. In 2003, after reviewing the study, the FTC was instructed by Congress and Sub-Committee Chairman Cliff Stearns to implement a phone number that was "easily recallable" so as to maximize consumer participation. Unfortunately, the FTC disregarded these instructions and elected to choose the non-memorable number 1-888-382-1222. As of 2007, less than 50% of eligible phone numbers are signed up for the registry with the overwhelming majority of registrations being conducted online.
Additionally, the FTC's 2007 report to Congress states that the registry is effective, as evidenced by telemarketing violations being reported by less than 1% of registered phone numbers. This assumption, however, ignores the inconvenience that consumers must bear to report a violator as well as the time relationship between when the violation is committed and when the violation is reported. The number of violators reported would certainly be higher if consumers could report the offense immediately by simply calling 1-800-Do-Not-Call. The primary method used today of going online, searching for the FTC's website, and electronically reporting the violation is less convenient and less timely. The secondary method of calling 411 to get the number is timely, but less convenient and costly. As a result, the registry would be better served, in terms of both initial registrations and reporting violations, if the FTC elected to license the phone number 1-800-Do-Not-Call.
Wasn't 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. identified by the FTC as a "scammer" in 2003?
No, but the FTC did issue a carefully worded press release implying that 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. was a scammer. In the summer of 2003, after the FTC declined to accept the free offer to use the phone number, 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. launched a national program to transfer consumer calls to the national Do-Not-Call registry. Ads appeared in USA Today and on TV stations around the country. Thousands of Americans used the easy to remember number to sign up for the registry. 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. was providing a convenient transfer service similar to dialing 411 and then being transfered to the number requested. But instead of simply providing the number to the FTC for the caller to redial, 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. was successfully transferring the customer directly to the FTC's registration line, along with the consumers ANI information (a FTC requirement for registration).
Even though 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. was violating NO law and providing a valuable service, the FTC, without warning, elected to issue a misleading press release in an attempt to vilify and shut down 1-800-Do-Not-Call. Newspapers and TV stations across the country reported the alleged "scam." Two television station news departments, however, took the time to question the agency directly and their reports showed that 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. was, in fact, NOT a scammer, but the victim of a government agency's abuse of power. Click on the videos at the top of the page to view two of the news stories related to this event, courtesy of FirstCoastNews in Jacksonville, Florida and KUTV News in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Why did the FTC attempt to mislead the public and was the smear campaign successful?
For whatever reason, the FTC's plan for the National Do Not Call registry did not include using a memorable phone number. This is evident by the fact that the agency chose to directly violate instructions from Congress. Additionally, records show that the former Chairman of the FTC lobbied the agency on behalf of the Consumer Choice Coalition...a group comprised of some of the largest telemarketing companies in the world.
From a broader perspective, and as Dr. Patrick Groff, professor emeritus of education at San Diego State University, so aptly stated in a recent article,
"For a capitalist economy to function, entrepreneurs must not be subject to gratuitous or capricious government action. It is a violation of the cardinal precepts of free markets, as well as common moral sensibilities, for government to publicly vilify legitimate entrepreneurs. The Federal Trade Commission has often been guilty of such vilification."
Here, the FTC used the "power of the state" to intentionally suppress a phone number that is obviously more memorable, and at the same time, attempted to bring discredit and disgrace upon a small business with limited resources to defend the actions of the huge federal agency. As a result, 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. had no choice but to shut down its service.
Did 1-800-Do-Not-Call, Inc. charge consumers for signing up for the registry?
While a nominal convenience fee of $1.95 was advertised, not a single consumer's credit card was charged for the transfer to the national Do-Not-Call registry. Tens of thousands of consumers are on the registry today as a result of 1-800-Do-Not-Call's free transfer service.
What's the future for 1-800-Do-Not-Call?
It's up to the FTC. 1-800-Do-Not-Call suspended the transfer service but the number remains available for licensing at no charge to the agency.
What is the government phone number to sign up for the Do-Not-Call list?
or go to the Government's website: http://www.donotcall.gov.