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Do-not-call phone registry expanded

Phone registration for the national do-not-call list expands Monday to include people living in the Eastern United States.
/ Source: The Associated Press

People in the Eastern United States can fight back against telemarketing calls by making a telephone call of their own Monday when registration begins for the national do-not-call list in their part of the country.

THE REGISTRY HAS accepted online registrations nationwide and phone sign-ups in states west of the Mississippi River since the free service became available June 27.

People had registered nearly 17 million phone numbers by Thursday, the last day for which figures were available from the Federal Trade Commission.

The toll-free number — 1-888-382-1222 — was rolled out in stages to ensure the system could handle the volume of calls. Callers to the number must use the phone they want registered.

Of the phone numbers registered so far, the FTC said, nine out of 10 were entered online at On the Web site, consumers provide the home or cell phone numbers they want protected and an e-mail address to receive a confirmation message.

The FTC expects registration of up to 60 million phone numbers in the first year. There are about 166 million residential phone numbers in the United States, the FTC said, and the wireless industry estimates there are more than 147 million U.S. cell phone numbers.

People who sign up this summer should see a decrease in telemarketing calls after the FTC begins enforcing the list Oct. 1. The service will block about 80 percent of the calls, the FTC said.

More than a dozen states with do-not-call lists plan to add their lists to the national registry this summer, the FTC said. Consumers on those lists need not register again.

Beginning in September, telemarketers will have to check the list every three months to see who doesn’t want to be called. Those who call listed people could be fined up to $11,000 for each violation. Consumers would file complaints to an automated phone or online system.

Exemptions from the list include calls from charities and pollsters and calls on behalf of politicians. A company also may call a person on the no-call list if that person has bought, leased or rented from the company within the past 18 months or has inquired about or applied for something during the past three months.

The telemarketing industry estimates the do-not-call list could cut its business in half, costing it up to $50 billion in sales each year.

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