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Privacy Policy  

Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration Officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Today's guest: FTC Chairman Tim Muris

Tim Muris
June 27, 2003

Tim Muris
Good Morning as the President said this morning, he is very concerned with privacy and families. The message of today is that it is your home it is your phone and now it is your choice as to whether you want to accept the telemarketing calls.

Jerry, from Delaware, OH writes:
Can the principles behind a national do-not call list be applied to spam email. A national do not spam list?

Tim Muris
We are working very hard on the problem of spam. We have brought over 50 cases against deceptive spammers. We actually are the only people in the world who like receive to spam. Please forward your spam to us at We've received over 44 million pieces of spam so far. I have serious reservations about a do not spam list. Unlike telemarketers, most spammers are already engaged in deception. I would not want to put my email address on a list where people who are already violating the law would use. We are continuing to give a lot of thought to the problem of spam. We've convened a workshop a while ago to discuss the issue with the ISPs, technology experts, consumers and all interested parties and we are going to continue to see what we can do to reduce this problem which we know is a significant concern for consumers.

Roseann, from Pembroke Pines, Florida 33026 writes:
Where do I sign up for Do Not Call?

Tim Muris
Good Morning

You can sign up right now at If you live west of the Mississippi including Minnesota and Lousiana, call 1.888.382.1222 to sign up. Telephone registration will begin July 7 for Americans who live East of the Mississippi. Registration is free and is simple to do. There is no rush. Register anytime before August 31 and you will see a reduction in the number of calls you receive by October 1.

Kevin, from Fairview Park, OH writes:
Are there any provisions to prevent calls from out of the country?

Tim Muris
Thank you for your question.

Telephone calls from out of the country certainly can be covered by the regulations. If they are engaged in Interstate commerce they are subject to the rule. We often have sued fraudulent actors who are abroad.

Richard, from MA writes:
I want to know if you have thought of the thousands of jobs that will be lost with the Do Not Call List? With telemarketing agencies not being able to call as many people, the unemployment rate will rise. How do you plan to help that situation? Thank you.

Tim Muris

First, most telemarketers are legitimate businesses. Privately, many have told me that they prefer not to call consumers who do not want to do business with them. These telemarketers understand that consumers have a right to decide whether to take the calls.

More broadly, the calls blocked by the national registry are only a small portion of telemarketing calls. Most telemarketing is either business to business or consumers calling the telemarketers. For example, to date myself, I recently saw an ad on television for a Beach Boys CD. I called and ordered it. These calls are exempt under the rules, and they are a much more significant part of telemarketing than the calls covered under the national registry.

Jaqui, from Lee's Summit, MO writes:
Why are charities and especially politicians not included in the no call process? No call, is NO CALL.

Tim Muris
The telemarketing statute covers commercial transactions. Following 9/11, we gained some jurisdiction over charitable telemarketing. Political and charitable calls enjoy certain protections under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Although both are exempt from the national registry, you can tell individual charities not to call you again . If the charities use for-profit telemarketers , which most of them do, then they will have to respect your request, on a charity by charity basis not to call.

Dick, from Tallahassee, FL writes:
Will the FTC be responsible for enforcement of the Do Not Call Registry? What are the penalties for violation?

Tim Muris

The FTC, the FCC, and the states can all enforce the national registry. Beginning October 1, when telemarketers must be in compliance, consumers will be able to register complaints with us by the same methods. We anticipate that dozens of law enforcers will be used to prosecute violators. The maximum penalty is $11,000 per call.

Jeremy, from Long Island, New York writes:
What types of calls are covered under the Do Not Call registry? What calls will I still receive?

Tim Muris
We anticipate that about 80 percent of all calls will be covered. Political calls, legitimate surveys, charitable calls, and companies with whom you have had a business relationship in the last 18 months are exempt. For certain charitable calls, you will be able to opt out on a charity by charity basis. For business calls, you will be able to opt out on a business by business basis.

Kay, from Detroit, MI writes:
Will the new Do Not Call list also affect the calls you answer but no one is on the line and recorded telemarketer calls?

Tim Muris
Yes. Moreover, we have also adopted new rules to end the practice of telemarketers placing calls to you for which you pick up the phone and no one is there. Beginning October 1, telemarketers must have a real person on the line within two seconds of a consumers greeting or a recording. The rule will reduce the number of "dead air" or hang-ups that you get from telemarketers.

If the telemarketer does not have a sales person available, they must leave a recorded message telling you who is calling and what number they are calling from.

Chantille, from Florida writes:
So if we register and we get called by a telemarketer. Is there something we can do like report them or something??

Tim Muris
Beginning October 1, telemarketers must comply with the National Registry. Starting on that date, consumers will be able to register complaints with us, either online at or via telephone 1.888.382.1222. Consumers who complain will need to know the name or the telemarketer of the company that called them.

Between the FTC, FCC and the state, dozens of government officials will enforce compliance with the National Registry.

Norma, from McAllen, TX writes:
How is this registry different from the one already available at a cost of $8.95 and renewable every three years? Will this registry be free of cost to the telelphone consumer?

Tim Muris
The National Do Not Call Registry is free. There is no charge, whatsoever, to consumers. I am not familiar with the registry to which you are referring.

John, from Tampa Bay, florida writes:
I am a small business and rely on making sales calls to small to mid sized businesses, B2B. Will I be affected by the DO NOT CALL Registry or is the list for consumers only? Thank you.

Tim Muris
You will not be affected. The list is only for unsolicited calls from businesses to consumers.

Gooby, from Naperville writes:
How many people are being let on this list?

Tim Muris
Registry is by phone number. Any consumer phone line, including cell phones, can be registered. Based on experience with states, we are expecting over 60 million phone numbers to be registered.

Monty, from Georgia writes:
I'm on a state list, do I need to register?

Tim Muris
Almost 20 million people are signed up on the 27 state Do Not Call lists. 16 states, with about 14 million registrations, are planning to share their lists with us. The other 11 states, with almost 6 million registrants currently do not plan to share. Consumers in those states must register with the national list to gain the protections of the federal law.

For a complete list of what each state is doing, go to

Tim Muris
Thank you for your questions. This was a lot of fun. The FTC is the nation's consumer protection agency. Visit our web site at to learn of our many activities to learn how to file a complaint about other issues.

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