Since You Asked: Do Not Call doesn't mean 'no calls'

A few years ago, when signing up on the no call lists that supposedly was to limit telemarketers, we signed up on all of them. The last few months it seems like every day we get calls for all kinds of stuff, a lot of which come from computers. Did the lists expire or are these companies just calling in spite of them? I seem to remember that violators would be fined pretty heavily. How do I make a complaint to get these calls stopped?


— John D., Eagle Point

Initially, we thought the key in your question was "a few years ago ...". Registered phone numbers were to be retained for five years and then purged to "keep the list accurate," the federal government said in 2003 when the list was first created.

But when we went to the Do Not Call Registry at we stumbled on a notice posted in October: "FTC Pledges Not to Drop Any Numbers From Do Not Call Registry, Pending Final Congressional or Agency Action on Whether to Make Registration Permanent."

So, looks like the list is permanent. For a while anyway. Nothing in life is 100 percent certain, right? Except for death and taxes, of course. And telemarketer calls.

To check our own registration, we used the confirmation system on the registry site (an e-mail address is required) and indeed one SYA staffer's phone number was registered in December 2004 and is still active. But that staffer also gets telemarketer calls from time to time.

This could be a couple of things. We're getting allowed calls from folks we do or have done business with in the past (or we told them and their "partners" it was OK to contact us) or from "political organizations, charities and telephone surveyors." Or we're getting violators.

First, go to the site and verify your number is registered. If you've moved (ported) an old landline phone number to a cell provider, you may need to also register the hidden root cell number, which you can get from your cell provider. If you are registered, then you can look at lodging a complaint.

File your complaint on the registry's Web site or by calling 888-382-1222 (for TTY, call 1-866-290-4236). You must know either the name or the phone number of the company that called you and the date they called.

Is it worth it to lodge a complaint? You bet. The Federal Trade Commission says: "Since the Registry has been in place, the Commission has initiated 27 cases alleging DNC violations, resulting in a total of $8.8 million in civil penalties and $8.6 million in consumer redress or disgorgement of ill-gotten gains." Top losers: Telemarketer The Broadcast Team was fined $1 million and DirecTV paid $5.3 million.

Go get 'em!

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to The volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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