Since 2003, Americans have been able to opt out of receiving most telemarketing calls by registering their phone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry, and millions of them have done so. The registry now has over 221 million phone numbers, giving these consumers a bit more peace of mind during their lunch hour. Not only is the Do Not Call program extremely popular with consumers, it also helps telemarketers operate more efficiently by weeding out consumers who do not wish to be contacted. The DNC registry website is www.donotcall.gov. A Spanish version is also available. The registry only contains phone numbers, no other personally identifiable information, and we do not keep track of whether the numbers are landlines or cell phones.

There are some exceptions to the Do Not Call rules. Due to the limitations of the FTC’s authority, the registry does not apply to political calls or calls from nonprofits and charities (but the registry does cover telemarketers calling on behalf of charities). Also, calls from legitimate “investigative” organizations are not covered because they offer nothing to sell to consumers. Finally, calls are authorized from companies with which you have done or sought to do business. Specifically, a business can call you up to 18 months after you last did business with them.