Do Not Call Law
The Georgia and Federal Do Not Call laws, with some exceptions, prohibit telemarketers who are selling goods or services from contacting those who have chosen to have their phone numbers placed on the Do Not Call List. Consumer names and phone numbers on the Georgia Do Not Call List were merged into the Federal Do Not Call (DNC) registry after it was established in 2003. The DNC registry, maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is now the sole registration site for Georgians who wish to ease the burden of unwanted solicitation calls.
Business phones are not eligible for registration on the registry, and subscription to the DNC registry does not provide call blocking. It does, however, give you a method of reducing incoming telemarketing calls.
Inclusion of a residential or cellular telephone number on the DNC registry should stop most telemarketing calls. However, calls are still permitted from:
- Charities or religious organizations
- Companies with which you have a current or prior business relationship (such as the telephone company or a credit card company)
- Companies you have given prior express invitation or permission to call
- Polling companies, educational institutions or other organizations whose purpose is not to solicit the consumer to buy, rent or invest in property, goods or services
You can sign up for the DNC registry either over the Internet at http://www.donotcall.gov (click on “Register a phone number”) or by calling 888-382-1222. If you call in your registration, you must do so from the phone number you wish to have registered. Your registration will not expire. Telephone numbers placed on the National Do Not Call Registry will remain on it permanently due to the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February 2008.
There is a 31-day lag time from the time new subscribers are placed on the DNC registry to the time telemarketers are prohibited from calling the registered number.
Enforcing the Do No Call Law
The Federal Do Not Call Law is enforced by both the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). To report a violation, go to http://www.donotcall.gov and click on “File a complaint.” Remember, for a violation to have occurred, all of these conditions must apply:
- The call was made to a residential or cellular phone number at least 31 days after the date the phone number was registered with the DNC registry.
- The purpose of the telemarketer’s call was to solicit you to buy, rent or invest in property, goods or services. Remember that calls from charitable, religious or other organizations that solicit contributions, memberships, opinions, and the like are generally not in violation of the Georgia or Federal Do Not Call Laws.
- The telemarketer’s company and you (or a member of your household) do not have a prior or current business or personal relationship. Federal regulations limit the scope of a prior business relationship to the 18 months preceding a purchase or acquisition and the preceding three months before you made an inquiry or application. Calls made to the consumer or another household member during these periods are not violations.
What to Report
The more information you can produce, the more effectively the law can be enforced. You should attempt to obtain and then report as much information as possible about the call. For example:
- Your first and last name, your address and the phone number that was called.
- The approximate date (month/year) the number was registered with the Georgia Do Not Call List or the DNC Registry.
- The date or dates (and approximate time of day) the telemarketer made the call.
- If you have Caller ID, the telephone number from which the telemarketer called.
- The name of the caller and the company's name, both of which all telemarketers are required to state at the beginning of the call.
- The type of product, service or investment opportunity mentioned in the solicitation.
- The telephone number (usually an 800 number) that the telemarketer provided.
- If the solicitation was a recorded message rather than a live person, you should provide that information in your complaint.
- Often companies will contract with telemarketing companies to market their services. If so, give the name of the telemarketing company as well as the company they are representing.
- Addresses for both the telemarketing firm and the company for which the telemarketer is selling.
- At your discretion, your age if you are at least 60 years old. Other laws may apply if it can be shown that a telemarketer is targeting senior consumers.
- Any other information relevant to the complaint.
Telemarketers who violate the Do Not Call law are subject to civil penalties under the federal law of up to $11,000 per violation and under the state law of up to $5,000 per violation. If the consumer is elderly, additional penalties may apply.
Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I register a business phone number?
No. The DNC Registry is only for personal residential and cell phone numbers. Business-to-business calls are not covered by the Do Not Call laws.
Does the Georgia Do Not Call Law stop faxes from telemarketers?
No. The law specifically limits "voice communications." The FCC and the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) have jurisdiction to handle unsolicited fax complaints under other statutes. You can report violations to the FCC at http://www.fcc.gov/ or by mail to:
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554
Report violations to the PSC by e-mail at [email protected] or by mail to:
Georgia Public Service Commission
244 Washington Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Do the Do Not Call laws stop recorded-message calls from telemarketers that originate from Automatic Dialing and Announcement Devices?
Yes. Automatic Dialing and Announcement Devices (ADADs) are also covered under the laws, as long as the telephone calls are not from one of the exempt groups (prior or current business relationship, prior express invitation or permission, religious and charitable organizations, etc.). Furthermore, telemarketers who operate ADAD equipment in this state are required to get a permit from the Georgia PSC to use it. To verify authorization, go to the Telecommunications Database on the PSC website, enter the Company Name; under Certificate Type choose "ADAD" from the pull-down menu, then hit the "Search" button.
Is Caller ID required to receive the benefits of the Do Not Call laws?
No. The DNC registry works independently of any Caller ID service. Instead of blocking incoming calls, telemarketers are required to take the telephone numbers of people who have registered with the DNC registry off their marketing or calling lists.
Can telemarketers conceal the telephone number from which they are calling by blocking Caller ID?
It is illegal for a telemarketer to block Caller ID. However, it may be technically impossible for some telemarketers to transmit Caller ID information because of the type of telephone system they use.
Once a consumer registers a phone number, what personal information will be kept in the DNC registry, and how will it be used?
The only personal identifying information that will be shared with telemarketers is the phone number registered. If the consumer registered online, the e-mail address used will be stored separately and securely. It will not be accessible by others outside the FTC once a reply message is sent to you.
How long does it take after I request removal of my phone number for it to be deleted from the DNC Registry?
After a phone number is deleted, it will be removed from the DNC Registry by the next day. But telemarketers have up to three months to access information about the deletion and add the telephone number back to their call lists, if they choose to.
Can I take private legal action to enforce the Georgia Do Not Call Law?
Yes. O.C.G.A. Section 46-5-27(i) gives consumers the right to bring a private action.