Telemarketers continue to ignore Do Not Call Registry

August 29, 2013 

It has become a sort of obsession for Meridian resident Della Marshall. In the past six months, she has recorded every telephone number that has appeared on her caller ID.

“I’ve gotten to the point if I don’t know who is calling, I let it go to the answering machine,” she said. “If it’s someone I recognize — the person on the message machine — I’ll call them back.”

In one month’s time, she recorded 67 calls. Some were from Jamaica, some from unknown — 1-800 and 1-876 numbers — but quite a few appeared to be from robocalls with offers of medical alert devices, credit cards or phone upgrades.

“I’m on the Do Not Call Registry,” she said. “But they just keep calling. Can’t they catch these guys and make them stop?”

The simple answer: Criminals and irresponsible businesses don’t obey the law. They don’t care about the National Do Not Call Registry.

A report issued this week from the Federal Trade Commission shows that average monthly complaints for the national Do Not Call (DNC) list are up 63 percent from 2011.

The DNC registry was started in 2003 to address the problem of unwanted telemarketing calls. It was an immediate hit, adding more than 51 million phone numbers in its first year. The registry gives people an opportunity to limit legitimate telemarketing calls. Once a person registers his or her phone number, telemarketers covered by the DNC have up to 31 days to stop calling.

FTC rules state that only surveys, political calls, charitable requests and informational calls (such as a school announcing a weather delay) are allowed. And charity appeals must be direct, not from a telemarketer.

Registration shows more than 221 million numbers on the list, but the number of complaints has soared. Since September 2012, FTC averaged 308,000 complaints a month — a slight drop from a few record months early in 2012, but it still eclipsed the same month in 2011.

Idaho is nowhere as hammered by robocalls as other states. By comparison, Idahoans filed 19,497 complaints in 2012 with the FTC — that’s about 1,230 complaints per 100,000 — while Illinois filed 234,473 complaints, or 1,822 per 100,000. That makes Idaho average in the number of complaints filed. Oregon shows 1,605 complaints per 100,000, while Washington recorded 1,668 per 100,000. The lowest number of complaints was filed in Alaska, where 332 were filed per 100,000 residents.

Things to remember:

- If your number is already listed on the Do Not Call list, your registration does not expire.

- You can verify if and when your number was registered by going to DoNotCall.gov.

- Do not give personal information to unknown callers, including bank information, Social Security numbers and contact information.

- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers use caller ID spoofing to put any number on the screen.

BBB works closely with the FTC, referring residents to file complaints and to register as a method of dealing with identity theft. BBB does not track robocalls directly, but collects information on scams in the Snake River region. Since the first of the year, BBB shows residents reported 463 deceptive phone calls. If you feel you have received a scam call, report it at 800-218-1001.

Robb Hicken: 947-2115

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service