Chapter 265 of the Acts of 2002, An Act Regulating Telemarketing Solicitation, created a "Do Not Call" registry within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. By signing up on the Do Not Call Registry, consumers can stop receiving certain prohibited telephone solicitations. Telephone solicitors and list brokers are also required to register with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, or its contracted entity, and to subscribe to receive the quarterly, updated list. Telemarketers and list brokers must remove from their calling lists the residential telephone numbers of consumers who have requested not to be called.
How and when can I sign up?
- The list is free and available for all Massachusetts residents to sign up.
- Registration is easy and can be accomplished in a short amount of time.
- You can register any home and cell phone numbers and each number only needs to be registered once (not every person in the household needs to register). With their permission, you may also register a friend or relative.
- Once you have registered, your phone number will be included on future lists unless you request to have it removed. If you want your phone number to be taken off the list, you must print and mail a delete request form . You should remove your number if you move and change your number.
- Business phone numbers are not covered by this law.
The Do No Call Registry is updated and provided to subscribing telemarketers on a quarterly basis (January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1). Each updated list adds the names of any consumers who signed up since the last list was published. After each signup period, telemarketing solicitors have a few weeks to remove new numbers from their lists. When you sign up you will be given the effective date on which you can expect unsolicited sales calls to stop. Make a note of this date for future reference or check your status to be sure of the date the telemarketers received the list on which your number appears.
What protections do consumers have under the law?
- Unsolicited sales calls may not be made to consumers who sign up on the Do Not Call Registry after the effective date of their registration.
- Soliciting telephone calls cannot be made to any Massachusetts consumers (even those who are not on the registry) between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
- Soliciting facsimile transmissions cannot be made at any time.
- Telephone solicitations using recorded message devices cannot be made at any time.
- Telemarketers cannot use devices to block their identity from the consumer.
- Telemarketers must disclose, within the first minute of the sales call, identifying information, including the sales purpose of the call, the name of the telemarketer and the name of the ultimate seller, and an accurate and complete description of the goods or services being offered.
- Telemarketers must disclose the following before any payment discussions:
- The total cost of the goods/services offered;
- Any limits on the purchase;
- The refund and return policy; and
- The material terms of any investment opportunity being offered, including the price, location and the non-guaranteed nature of the investment.
Information provided by consumers to sign up on the Do Not Call Registry is protected from general disclosure and inspection or for use for any other purpose. Telemarketers must use the list solely for the purpose of the Do Not Call program and the telemarketer must agree not to sell or otherwise transfer the list to any other person or entity.
I signed up on the Do Not Call Registry but I still receive calls.
There are a few reasons that you may still receive unsolicited calls.
1) The law exempts certain types of calls:
- Noncommercial polls or surveys, e.g. political polls;
- Calls made by tax-exempt non-profit organizations, e.g. universities and charities;
- Calls made to consumers at the consumer’s request;
- Calls made to consumers in response to that consumer's visit to that company's fixed commercial location;
- Telephone sales calls made primarily in connection with an existing contract or debt; and
- Telephone sales calls to an existing customer. For example, your insurance company may continue to contact pre-existing customers without receiving the list. However, if they will be soliciting new customers without their permission, they will need to subscribe to the list.
2) The call is a spoofed call or a scam call. These calls are often made by people looking to steal your identity or your money. They use technology to call thousands of numbers in minutes and operate illegally, ignoring state and federal laws. Phone companies have been trying to crack down on robocalls for the last several years, with some landline and cell phone operators offering spam blocking technology.
3) The business is not following the law. In this case, you may file a complaint with the Attorney General's office.
What responsibilities does a business have under the law?
Telemarketers and list brokers, even those from out-of-state, must remove from their calling lists the residential telephone numbers of consumers who have requested not to be called.
The fastest and easiest format to receive the list is through an electronic download. Subscribers will receive a quarterly e-mail with the accompanying file. Subscribers may also request to receive the Do Not Call Registry by CD.
The Do Not Call Registry is updated quarterly and telephone solicitors and list brokers must remove the numbers of consumers on the Do Not Call Registry including new registrations from their call lists by the quarterly effective date (April 1, July 1, October 1, January 1). As soon as the solicitor or list broker registers for the list, they will receive the most current updated list. However, regardless of when a subscriber registers, the subscription ends December 31st of that year. Solicitors must renew their subscription annually to receive the list.
If a solicitor or list broker begins doing business and does not remove names from its calling lists, legal action may be taken.