PUCO reminds Ohioans of Do Not Call Registry

Published:

Have you been receiving a large number of solicitation telephone calls?

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) wants to remind Ohioans that they have the power to take charge of the number of telemarketing calls they receive.

The Federal Communica-tions Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have implemented a National Do Not Call Registry, making it illegal for telemarketers to contact you if you register your landline or wireless number.

How does the

National Do Not

Call Registry work?

By law, telemarketers must search the National Do Not Call Registry every 31 days and delete from their call lists any telephone numbers on the registry. If you continue to receive telemarketing calls even after you have registered your telephone number, you will be able to file a complaint with the FTC. A telemarketer who disregards the National Do Not Call Registry could be fined up to $16,000 for each call.

How do I register my

telephone number?

You can register free of charge at www.donotcall.gov or by calling toll-free (888) 382-1222. If you register by telephone, you must call from the telephone number you wish to register. All types of telephone numbers, including landline, wireless, and Voice over Internet Protocol, may be registered.

One thing to note is scammers have been making telephone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry. The calls claim to provide an opportunity to sign up for the registry. These calls are not coming from the registry or the FTC, and you should not respond to these calls.

Do I have to

re-register my

number every

five years?

No. Originally, customers were required to re-register their number after five years on the registry, but the FCC changed this in 2008. Now, telemarketers are required to honor all registrations indefinitely, so the registrations will not automatically expire. Customers no longer need to re-register their numbers to continue their preference not to receive telemarketing calls.

Will this stop all

telemarketing calls?

Businesses with which you have an established business relationship are not required to follow the do not call rules. They can call you for up to 18 months from your last purchase, payment or delivery, even if your number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. Companies with which you have made an inquiry or submitted an application can call you for three months, but if you ask a company not to call you, it must honor your request.

Callers soliciting charitable contributions do not have to search the National Do Not Call Registry. Calls regarding political and religious speech are also not subject to the do not call requirements.

To avoid such calls, read all fine print before filling out sweepstakes or other contest forms. You may be establishing a business relationship, giving the company permission to call you. You can also ask companies and organizations to place you on their internal do not call lists.

To reduce the amount of energy marketers contacting you, contact your current utility and/or supplier and request to be excluded from the "eligible" list. This list is made accessible to the marketers by law, but consumers can request to not be included.

What about my

wireless phone?

Personal wireless phone users can add their numbers to the national registry. The government does not maintain a separate national wireless phone registry.

Telemarketing to wireless phone numbers has always been illegal in most cases and will continue to be so. FCC regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call wireless phone numbers. Automated dialers are in standard use in the telemarketing industry, so most telemarketers are barred from calling consumers on their wireless phones without their consent.

What is Ohio doing?

If you continue to receive unwanted telemarketing calls, you can file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General in addition to the FTC.

Are there other

protections against

unwanted

telemarketing calls?

The telemarketing rules prohibit deceptive and abusive telemarketing practices and protect you from late-night calls.

• Calling times are restricted to 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.

• Telemarketers must promptly tell you who they are calling for and if the call is a sales call or charitable solicitation.

• Telemarketers must disclose all material information about the goods or services they are offering and terms of the sale. They are prohibited from lying about any terms of the offer.

• Telemarketers must transmit caller ID information and are prohibited from blocking caller ID information.

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