Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

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National Do Not Call Registry Opens

dnclogo_small.gif The opening of the National Do Not Call Registry, a free service of the federal government developed to give consumers a choice about getting telemarketing calls at home, was announced this morning by President George W. Bush, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Timothy J. Muris, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael K. Powell.

Consumers nationwide can register online at DONOTCALL.GOV. Consumers in states west of the Mississippi River (including Louisiana and Minnesota) can register by calling, toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236). On July 7, phone registration will be open to the entire country.

FTC do-not-call list

NDNCR_biglogo.gif I always love it when government goes above and beyond the private sector. The Direct Marketing Association already provides a do-not-call list called the Telephone Preference Service (which I discovered via Operation Opt-Out). But only telemarketers that belong to the DMA actually use the TPS list. The FTC wants to make a mandatory do-not-call list for all telemarketers:

F.T.C. Issues Rules Restricting Telemarketing Calls. The F.T.C. issued rules restricting telemarketing calls to consumers, including plans for a nationwide registry of consumers who do not want to receive such sales calls. By Barnaby J. Feder. [New York Times]

Looks like we consumers will need to wait until this spring to put our names on the list. When the time comes, I’ll be one of the first to sign up.

Opt-out of Telemarketers and Junk Mail

operation-opt-out.gif There are already several good tools for combatting e-mail spam, but what about telephone calls and U.S. Postal Service junk mail?

Few people are aware of an organization called the Direct Marketing Association which is used by many (but not all) telemarketers and junk mailers. From what I understand, the DMA rents a centralized database of names and phone numbers to reputable marketers.

What’s important about the DMA is that they provide something called the Mail Preference Service and the Telephone Preference Service which are opt-out lists that consumers can join. If you tell the DMA that you don’t want junk mail or telephone calls by registering with these lists, they will refuse to give your name to their customers. Pretty cool.

There are other groups to contact as well, such as the Big 3 credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union). After you ask these companies to stop sharing your name & address, and suddenly all of those credit card solicitations disappear!

The easiest way to get rid of all of this offline spam is to go Operation Opt-Out and print out the 7 or 8 forms and mail them off to the various agencies. The $3.00 investment in stamps will go a long way towards reducing aggravation.