Do Not Call Registry or Does Not Work Registry?
Are you still getting telemarketing calls at dinnertime and other forms of phone spam?
Maybe you were under the impression that the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry was supposed to do something about this. After all, for years it has been tossed out as the solution for those who complain about telemarketers and robo-calls. If your number is among the over 222,841,484 in the registry, you may already know that it is not very effective. Here’s a look at how ineffective it is: consider the fact that there were 3.5 million complaints about unwanted telephone solicitation made to the registry in 2015, this represents an increase from 3.2 million in 2014. Consider also that the Do Not Call Registry was established 2004 and has grown every year since then. After more than a decade of people registering, unwanted phone calls and robo-calls appear to be bigger business than ever.
Problems with the Registry
The idea behind the registry was that you were supposed to register your number and report offending calls; however, reporting the offending telemarketers and robo-callers is not easy when they hide their caller ID information. In addition, the Do Not Call legislation has so many loopholes that it is easy to see why many people question its value. For instance, there are various different types of organizations are simply not subject to the legislation and many shady ones that just ignore it. Also to be considered is the fact that registering does not provide you with instant protection, it takes a while to see a drop in the quantity of phone spam. The result is that even with the registry in place and your number in it, you are still likely to be answering the phone during dinner.
The FTC’s Ineffective Enforcement
According to the FTC’s website, they have taken legal action against telemarketers who refuse to abide by the Do Not Call Registry. The FTC states that over the course of the Do Not Call Registry’s existence, they have brought 105 actions against companies due to their violations. They have also imposed $117 million in fines. Given the sheer volume of marketing calls to the millions of households in the United States, this seems barely enough to even qualify as a drop in the bucket. Given that only about 10 cases per year have been brought since the registry came into being, it is not likely to make any meaningful difference. This is despite the fact that Louis Greisman of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection called the registry “tremendously successful” in his 2013 testimony to Congress.
Is the Do Not Call Registry Completely Ineffective?
No, not exactly. If you were to sign up today and are willing to wait, you might eventually see a dip in the number of calls you get. At least, that is what some registrants say that they experienced. However, the odds are that would you would continue get some calls since political organizations and other groups are not subject to the registry. Also allowed are calls from entities with which you have a business relationship. Obviously, none of this is what the term “Do Not Call” implies.
So, does any of this mean that it is impossible to keep scammers and telemarketers from disturbing your peace? No. The government has the resources to trace phone calls regardless of the steps spammers take to cover their tracks. They could easily find and prosecute offenders, which would discourage unwanted telephone solicitation. Are they going to do this? Probably not, unless consumers are willing voice their discontent to their elected representatives.