Emerging Best Practice in Do Not Call Registers (8 September 2009)
3. Best Practice Recommendations
Although national Do Not Call Registers are a relatively recent development, some best practice is beginning to emerge in the establishment and management of these registers:
- Widest possible coverage
Registers with the widest possible coverage have been the most successful. This may require registers to include mobile phones, VOIP and faxes as well as traditional home telephone numbers. The gradual expansion of the registers to cover small business numbers also appears to be inevitable.
- List washing
It is now clearly established that there are dangers in releasing the entire list of numbers registered on the Do Not Call register to telemarketers. This occurred briefly during the establishment of the National Do Not Contact List in Canada, and resulted in an increase in telemarketing calls. All major registers now require telemarketers to present their target numbers for washing or verification against the numbers on the register. This approach protects privacy and maintains the integrity of the list.
- No renewals
Do Not Call Registers sometimes require renewal of registration every 3-5 years. This requirement seems unnecessary as a person is unlikely to change their preferences regarding telemarketing. In the US the renewal requirement was dropped in 2007 and registration is now permanent. Registration is also permanent in the India, Spain and the UK. All jurisdictions should consider removing renewal requirements.
Most jurisdictions have undertaken high profile enforcement activity – setting an example to the entire industry about compliance with the Do Not Call rules. This enforcement activity is in stark contrast to the previous self-regulatory approaches that existed in jurisdictions like Australia and the US, where enforcement was virtually non-existent.
- Additional restrictions
In addition to Do Not Call Registers, many jurisdictions have other limits on telemarketing. For example, telemarketing is completely prohibited in Germany, and in Australia telemarketing of financial services products is prohibited. Many jurisdictions have additional restrictions on calling hours, banning calls on Sundays and holidays or outside reasonable hours. Some jurisdictions also ban computerised calls. A combination of these types of specific restrictions and a national Do Not Call Register appears to deliver the best results for consumers.
Overall, there has been a shift towards Government run Do Not Call Registers. Countries that previously had industry managed lists (with just a few thousand numbers on them) have embraced national Government lists, resulting in millions of consumers registering their numbers. Countries that are still relying on self regulatory options have very low numbers of registered numbers (e.g. there are only around 50,000 numbers on the industry Do Not Call Register in New Zealand).