WASHINGTON President Bush launched a national do-not-call list today to stop unwanted telemarketing, saying the last thing people need at home "is a call from a stranger with a sales
"Unwanted telemarketing calls are intrusive, they are annoying, and they're all too common," Bush said at a White House ceremony.
People began registering just after midnight. As of this morning, Bush said 108 people per second were adding their phone numbers to the list.
Telemarketers attempt up to 104 million calls every day,
according to the Federal Communications Commission.
The industry has said the registry will devastate their business
and has sued the Federal Trade Commission, saying the program amounts to an unlawful
restriction on free speech.
Consumers can register for the free government service by visiting the Web site www.donotcall.gov. Telephone registration using a toll-free number 1/888-382-1222 is available in states
west of the Mississippi River, including Minnesota and Louisiana, starting today, and nationwide by July 7, the FTC said.
"When Americans are sitting down to dinner or a parent is reading to his or her child, the last thing that they need is a call from a stranger with a sales pitch," Bush said. "So we're taking practical action to address this problem."
The list will block about 80% of telemarketing calls, said FTC Chairman Timothy Muris.
"People own their homes and their phones and now they will have a choice about whether they want the calls," Muris said in an interview.
Telephone registration is being done in stages to ensure the
system can handle the volume of calls expected, the FTC said. The
commission expects up to 60 million phone numbers to be registered
in the first year.
People who sign up this summer should see a decrease in
telemarketing calls after the FTC begins enforcing the do-not-call
list on Oct. 1. Registrations will have to be renewed every five
On the Web site, people will have to provide the phone number
they want protected and an e-mail address to receive confirmation.
Consumers calling the toll-free number will have to call from the
telephone number they want to register.
The FCC voted 5-0 yesterday to add its authority to the
do-not-call list, blocking telemarketing calls from within a state
the FTC could only police interstate calls and from industries
whose calls the agency regulates, including airlines, banks and
Of the states with do-not-call lists, 13 plan to add their lists
of 8.1 million numbers to the national registry this summer, three
have legislation pending to allow them to share, and 11 will not
share the information, the FTC said. Consumers on state lists added
to the national one need not register again.
Beginning in September, telemarketers will have to check the
list every three months to see who doesn't want to be called. Those
who call listed people could be fined up to $11,000 for each
violation. Consumers would file complaints to an automated phone or
Exemptions from the list include calls from charities, pollsters
and on behalf of politicians. Registered consumers also can give
written permission to get calls from certain companies.
A company also may call someone on the no-call list if that
person has bought, leased or rented from the company within the
past 18 months. Telemarketers also may call people if they have
inquired about or applied for something from the company during the
past three months.
But consumers can avoid those calls by asking to be put on an
individual company's do-not-call list.
Congress authorized the FTC to collect up to $18.1 million from
telemarketers to pay the program's expenses in the first year.