(AP) WASHINGTON – Consumers have until Sunday to add their phone numbers to the 41.7 million already on a list to block telemarketing calls starting Oct. 1. K. Dane Snowden, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s consumer and government affairs bureau, said those who sign up for the do-not-call list after this weekend likely will have to wait until early next year before calls are blocked.
Telemarketers have asked the federal courts to block the new rules, saying they violate their free speech rights. The case is pending.
The Federal Trade Commission is administering the list, while both the FCC and FTC are enforcing it. The list has proven extremely popular with consumers, with officials saying they expect it to contain up to 60 million phone numbers by the end of the year.
“Individuals want to have some control over the telephone calls coming to their homes every single day,” Snowden said.
In addition, telemarketing calls by Jan. 1 must carry a name and phone number that will show up on Caller ID, Snowden said. Such calls often now only say “out of area.”
Consumers can register for the do-not-call list by calling 1-888-382-1222 or visiting http://www.donotcall.gov.
The FTC has estimated that the list will block about 80 percent of telemarketing calls. Charities, pollsters and political campaigns are exempt. In addition, a company may call a person if he or she has bought, leased or rented from the firm in the previous 18 months or has inquired about or applied for something during the past three months.
Meanwhile, businesses and nonprofit groups continue to challenge another FCC rule, which requires them to obtain written permission before sending unsolicited faxes. The FCC on Aug. 19 agreed to postpone the rule until Jan. 1, 2005.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business associations asked the commission on Wednesday to reconsider the rule.
Snowden also urged consumers to contact their cellular telephone companies and state officials to urge them to provide what is known as enhanced 911 service, which allows an operator to pinpoint the location or the number of a wireless call.
Though wireless customers pay a surcharge for E911 service, some cell phones and transmission towers cannot transmit the location of the caller, and cash-strapped local and state governments have not spent the money they’ve collected to install the new technology, instead using it to close budget gaps.