Emerging Best Practice in Do Not Call Registers (8 September 2009)

2.6. United States

The United States set up a National Do Not Call Registry in 2003.[20] It is established by legislation[21] and is administered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It is enforced in part by the FTC, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and state law enforcement officials.

The establishment of the US register was heavily influenced by concerns regarding the content of telemarketing calls and related sales tactics in the US. It was seen as a consumer protection initiative rather than a privacy initiative.

In 2007 the US register was reformed so that renewal of membership is not required.[22] Telephone numbers will only be removed from the register if they are reassigned or disconnected.

The US register includes home and mobile phone numbers. Telemarketers are required to search through the register every 31 days for numbers they call using the wash method (although in the US they call it the ‘scrub’ method).

In October 2008 (latest available figures) 172,523,062 numbers had been registered, making it the largest do not call register in operation.[23] More than 75% of US consumers have registered at least one number on the list.

The US register is considered a success, with a large proportion of US numbers now registered. There have also been a number of significant, high profile enforcement actions under the legislation. These have resulted in numerous settlements and penalties. However, telemarketing is so prevalent in the US that even after registering on the Do Not Call List the average US consumer will still receive 6 unwanted telemarketing calls per month (this compares with 30 calls per month for numbers not on the list).[24] US consumers have to actively report calls to the regulators, and several services have emerged to assist in this process.[25]

The US also has a series of state-based Do Not Call Registers, and these also have a long history of enforcement action. In one high profile case, a for-profit organisation attempted to circumvent the Do Not Call legislation by using a non-profit organisation as a ‘front’ for making sales calls. The local state regulator was able to obtain an injunction to stop this practice.[26]

[20] <>

[21] Do-Not-Call Implementation Act 2003 (US, 15 USC 6101), <>.

[22] Do-Not-Call Improvement Act 2007 (US), <>.

[23] National Do Not Call Registry, Current Do Not Call Registrations, 30 September 2008, <>.

[24] Economic Report of the President 2009, page 244, <>.

[25] See for example <>.

[26] Missouri v Feature Films For Families Inc (2006), <>.