DMA Lauds Senate for Working to Improve Accuracy and Cost of National Do Not Call Registry
December 18, 2007 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) lauds the efforts of the US Senate for passing two pieces of legislation last night that will greatly improve the National Do Not Call Registry for consumers and marketers alike.
The Do Not Call Improvement Act (S. 2096) would make registered numbers permanent on the National Do Not Call Registry, while improving the overall accuracy of those registered numbers by requiring the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to remove invalid numbers and report to Congress on their progress nine months after enactment. The House passed a companion bill (H.R. 3541) on December 11.
A second Senate bill (S. 781) would permanently authorize the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to administer the registry while capping the fees that marketers are required to pay in order to access registered phone numbers. The House passed a companion bill (H.R. 2601) on December 11.
“The Do Not Call Improvement Act was greatly improved since it was initially introduced thanks in large part to the efforts of Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Vice Chair Ted Stevens (R-AK), Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and their dedicated staffs,” said Jerry Cerasale, DMA’s senior vice president of government affairs. “We’re very pleased that DMA could work so closely with members of both the House and Senate on the important issues relating to the National Do Not Call Registry, and ultimately have our members’ concerns addressed effectively in the final bill. We hope President Bush will act quickly by signing this bill into law.”
Launched in 2003, the National Do Not Call Registry today contains more than 145 million telephone numbers. However, according to teleservices industry estimates, nearly half of the registered numbers are unusable or redundant because of other laws and regulations that govern the use of phone numbers for business purposes.
The FTC instituted the five-year expiration date of registered phone numbers during the rulemaking 2003 process as their only effective means of purging the list of unused and inaccurate numbers.
According to Cerasale, “DMA members support eliminating the current rule’s five-year consumer registration period for the National Do Not Call Registry as part of their commitment to consumer choice. Adding the new accuracy and reporting requirement on the FTC makes this possible. The public has voiced its strong support for the registry, and DMA wants to help consumers make informed decisions on how they can be contacted by businesses selling valuable products and services. Those legitimate marketers who rely on the FTC’s no-call registry as a means of keeping their own lists as accurate as possible will greatly benefit from the new provisions that will be implemented as a result of the final legislation.”
Capping Access Fees
Cerasale said S. 781 — which was introduced by Senator Pryor — would reauthorize the FTC to implement and administer the Do Not Call Registry while capping the fees charged to telemarketers for access to the list of phone numbers.
This revision to the original Telemarketing Sales Rule, Cerasale explained, caps the maximum annual fee a telemarketer must pay for access to the entire registry at $14,850, or $54 for each area code. This proposed fee is a reduction from the current access fee of $17,050, and would reverse a trend of accelerated annual increases that have resulted in a 263 percent increase in access fees over the last four years.
In addition, Cerasale said S. 781 would continue to permit businesses to access the first five area codes of data at no charge, as well as continue to allow fee-exempted entities to access the registry at no charge.
“DMA believes that for all of the legitimate marketers who are committed to remaining in compliance with the law, this improvement to the Telemarketing Sales Rule makes the registry’s fee structure much easier and certainly more predictable than what we have experienced since the registry’s 2003 launch,” Cerasale added.
Cerasale said these seemingly small improvements to the no-call registry — such as greater list hygiene, more timely inclusion of abandoned numbers, and a transparent fee structure — will help create a more accurate and usable product for marketers and a more effective tool for consumers.
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