Do Not Call List complaints rise

PARKERSBURG – A number of people throughout the area have appeared to be getting more calls from telemarketers and others despite being on the national Do Not Call List.

Since being implemented in 2003, the National Do Not Call Registry has stopped many telemarketers from calling people at home who do not wish to be contacted.

Mitchell J. Katz, with the Office of Public Affairs for the Federal Trade Commission, said there are now more phone numbers than ever before with cell phones and land lines.

“With the increase in phone numbers, the complaints also increase,” he said.

In West Virginia, there were 1,173,611 registrations for the 304 area code on the Do Not Call list as of Sept. 30, 2013, according to the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry Data Book FY 2013.

There were only 1,318 registrations for the newer 681 area code for West Virginia.

In 2013, there were around 14,938 complaints for the 304 area code filed with the FTC, according to the Data Book. Only 28 were filed in 2013 for the 681 area code.

“West Virginia ranks 44th (in the nation for complaints),” Metz said. “They just aren’t hitting the numbers some other states are.”

The Office of Attorney General of West Virginia Patrick Morrisey has seen a number of consumer complaints about phone scams as well as spoofing (which is where a telemarketer uses a program to make the number on Caller ID appear as the homeowner’s number), said Beth Ryan, spokeswoman for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

“Complaints have been varied, ranging from offering medical devices and products to free vacations and sweepstakes prizes,” she said. “Our office advises consumers to be wary anyone offers them a prize for a contact they don’t remember entering.

“And never provide any personal or financial information to someone calling you. And if you see a call coming in that shows it is coming from your home phone, we suggest ignoring it and reporting it to our office.”

In Ohio, there were 3,619 complaints in 2012 with nine originating in Washington County, according to the Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine.

In 2013, it was 2,723 complaints with eight originating in Washington County. So far in 2014, there have been 543 complaints with two originating in Washington County.

Common complaints are people getting called even though they are on the list, said Kate Hanson with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office

“That seems to be a common complaint,” she said.

Hanson warned that a number of these calls people are receiving could be from scammers trying to obtain personal information from people.

“There are a lot of scams out there,” she said.

Scammers have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry. The calls claim to provide an opportunity to sign up for the Registry. These calls are not coming from the Registry or the Federal Trade Commission, and people should not respond to these calls, officials said.

Officials are still telling people to get registered on the Do Not Call List if they don’t wish to receive telemarketing calls.

“Once a number is registers it should stay on the list forever,” Metz said.

There use to be a clause that people had to renew their registration every five years, but that clause has been eliminated, he said.

However, he said that numbers could drop off for a variety of reasons. People can go on the list and check if it is still there.

“It can easily be put back on there,” Metz said.

Placing a number on the national registry will stop most telemarketing calls, but not all of them, officials said. Calls that are still permitted include those from political organizations, charities, telephone surveyors, some insurance situations and organizations with which people have a relationship.

“If you wish to not get calls from telemarketers, register your phone number on the National Do Not Call registry,” Ryan said. “You can register up to three personal numbers on the registry at one time.

“You cannot register business phone numbers. Once a number is registered, it will remain on the Do Not Call list until the number is disconnected, the number has been transferred to a different customer or the customer opts to remove it. Once the number(s) are on the registry, telemarketers have 31 days to take your number out of their system.”

Consumers wishing to verify whether their phone numbers are on the list can go to www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236).