Do Not Call Registry: ten years of protecting consumers from unwanted calls
By Attorney General Roy Cooper
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the Do Not Call Registry first gave North Carolina families the right to keep telemarketers from bothering them. Since Do Not Call laws took effect in October 2003, more than 6.4 million North Carolina telephone numbers have been added to the Do Not Call Registry.
There’s no doubt that consumers who are on the Do Not Call Registry get fewer calls than if they hadn’t joined, but unfortunately some telemarketers don’t follow the law. My Consumer Protection Division has taken action against more than 30 Do Not Call violators, winning more than $1 million in civil penalties and refunds.
Lately, robocalls are the biggest source of consumer complaints about telemarketing calls. Robocalls are pre-recorded calls that can tie up your phone line and leave you frustrated, since there’s no live person to ask that the calls stop.
So far this year, consumers have filed nearly 3,200 Do Not Call complaints with my office, the vast majority—approximately 75 percent—about robocalls. Robocalls that try to sell you something violate North Carolina law unless a live operator introduces the call and asks if you are willing to hear the recorded message. But some telemarketers ignore this.
Technology has contributed to the robocall spike, making it easier for illegal telemarketers to reach more consumers while hiding their location from the authorities. Using autodialers, robocallers can dial thousands of numbers a minute at pennies per call. Often robocallers can cover their tracks by “spoofing” other telephone numbers, so that the wrong number shows up on customers’ caller IDs.
Recently, my office filed suit against an Iredell County alarm system company after more than 1,000 North Carolina consumers reported receiving misleading robocalls that claimed that the FBI or SBI had gotten reports of break-ins in their neighborhood. We’ve gotten the company to stop making these calls, but we want to make sure it pays for breaking the law.
We’re also continuing to fight satellite TV company DISH for millions of unwanted calls to consumers. That case is scheduled for trial in federal court next spring, and complaints filed by consumers are helping us make our case.
With your help, we’ll continue to go after illegal robocalls and telemarketers who call numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.
To protect yourself from unwanted calls:
Never provide personal financial or other confidential information to anyone who calls you.
Don’t “press 1” for more information or to stop the calls. Pressing a number verifies that your telephone number is valid and will likely lead to more calls.
Scammers can manipulate (or “spoof”) Caller ID, so don’t rely on that to decide whether or not a call is legitimate.
If you receive unwanted calls from a business you have a relationship with, you can always ask to be placed on their internal Do Not Call list.
If your number is already on the Registry, be skeptical of any telemarketing calls you receive. Most legitimate companies honor consumers’ requests not to be bothered. If someone ignores the Do Not Call Registry they are probably up to no good.
Report the calls to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within state or by filing a consumer complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.
And if you haven’t joined the Do Not Call Registry yet, it’s easy to sign up. To add your home and cell phone numbers just call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you’d like to register, or sign up online at www.donotcall.gov