How Does the Do Not Call Registry Work?

Registering a home phone number in the National Do Not Call Registry at prohibits most sales calls to that number, which nearly eliminates unsolicited telemarketing calls. Illegal calls to numbers on the registry are investigated by the Federal Trade Commission, which makes exceptions for certain types of calls.

The National Do Not Call Registry allows consumers to opt out of receiving unsolicited advertisements through the telephone. By registering a phone number, that phone is protected by law from receiving unsolicited sales calls. A grace period of 31 days allows telemarketers time to receive updates to the registry and make the necessary changes to their calling databases.

The FTC prohibits sales calls to a registered number, but other types of calls are still permitted, including calls from debt collectors, political or charitable calls, or calls from businesses with whom the consumer has a pre-existing business relationship. Illegal sales calls should be reported to the FTC for investigation. Often, fraudulent organizations are the ones making illegal sales calls to numbers on the registry, according to the FTC.

Telemarketers who continue to place unsolicited sales calls to numbers on the registry after the 31-day grace period risk penalties, including a fine of up to $16,000 per call. The National Do Not Call Registry is only available for home phone numbers and does not cover phones in businesses or government offices.