What Is The National Do Not Call Registry? How Does It Work?

What Is The National Do Not Call Registry? How Does It Work?
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Christin Perry
September 12, 2019

Every person with a phone number receives an estimated 22 spam calls per month. Is there a solution to this robocall deluge? Yes and no. You can cut down on unwanted calls by registering your number(s) on the National Do Not Call Registry, but sadly, it’s far from a fool-proof solution.

What is the National Do Not Call Registry?

The National Do Not Call Registry is a list of phone numbers that’s maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It’s against the law for telemarketers to make unsolicited calls to the numbers on this list. Started in 2003 as a response to explosive growth in the telemarketing industry, the list now contains more than 235 million phone numbers.

Wondering how to have your number added to the National Do Not Call Registry? It’s a snap to check whether you’re on the list, and to add your number if not. You can add up to three numbers to the list, and both landlines and cellphone numbers can be included (there is no separate Do Not Call Registry for cell phones).

How to check or add a number to the DNC Registry

To check whether your number is on the National Do Not Call Registry, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the website donotcall.gov.
  2. Click the “Verify Your Registration” button.
  3. Enter the phone number you’re inquiring about and your email address.
  4. Click “Submit.”
  5. Check your email. If your number is already included in the registry, you’ll receive an email saying so, along with the date you signed up. If not, the email will note that and provide instructions on how to sign up.

How to add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry:

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  1. Visit the website donotcall.gov.
  2. Click the “Register Your Phone” button.
  3. Click the “Register Here” button.
  4. Enter up to three phone numbers and add your email address.
  5. Click “Submit.”
  6. You will receive an email within 72 hours prompting you to click a given link in order to complete your registration.
  7. Your number will be added to the list, and telemarketers will have 31 days to stop calling you.

Does the Do Not Call Registry eliminate all unwanted calls?

The answer here is a resounding “no,” which you’re probably well aware of if your number is already on the list. You can still receive calls from debt collectors, political candidates, charity organizations and surveys. There’s also nothing stopping illegal robocalls, which are calls made by computers instead of humans and are often intended as scams.

Why are they so numerous now? “There’s been an increase in robocalls because they are easy to accomplish in great numbers by computers anywhere in the world, and they have proven to be effective in scamming people,” said Steve Weisman, professor at Bentley University and author of “The Truth About Avoiding Scams.”

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How to reduce robocalls

The National Do Not Call Registry doesn’t do much to stop illegal robocalls. Fraudsters who use this technique employ tricks like automated dialing and neighbor spoofing, which makes it difficult for the Federal Communications Commission to address the problem. But taking the following actions can help reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive:

  • Call your carrier. Most cellphone carriers provide a monthly service that offers basic spam and telemarketer detection, and will block calls from sketchy sources.
  • Use a third-party blocking app. For an extra layer of protection from unwanted calls, download one of the many apps now available that target and block robocalls. While not 100% effective, these apps will definitely cut down on the number of robocalls you receive.
  • Simply don’t answer. Nothing dictates that you must answer your phone every time it rings. Alert friends and family that you have a policy of sending all calls to voicemail unless the caller is on your contacts list.
  • Block the call manually. Cellphones come with the option to block a number that’s calling you. However, most robocallers have figured out a way around this, so it’s a bit of a cat-and-mouse game. Once you block a number, the robocaller is already calling from two others.

Worried you’ll miss important calls with all this blocking? If you get a call that you’re not sure about, don’t answer it but save the number. Then, use a reverse phone number search to try and figure out if it may have been from someone you’d like to speak with.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.