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Do Not Call List Loopholes: Why Are Telemarketers Still Calling?

By Dennis Peng|Tuesday September 10, 2019

The National Do Not Call Registry was once the gold standard to protect you against robocalls and telemarketers. However, if your phone is still ringing from unwanted calls, you may be wondering if the Do Not Call List is actually effective.

What’s changed? Let’s take a close look at the loopholes of the Do Not Call List, including what types of calls it protects against and what calls it doesn’t.


do not call list robocalls

What Is the National Do Not Call Registry?

The Do Not Call Registry is a federally run database of telephone numbers of those who prefer to limit their telemarketing calls. Established in 2003, the list includes both landline and cell phone numbers.

If you’d like to avoid legally prohibited robocalls, you can add your number to the list at It’s free, and your request will never expire. However, it can take up to 31 days for businesses to update their records with your request.

Businesses are legally required to comply with the Do Not Call Registry, and violators can be fined up to $42,530 per call.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the registry contains more than 235 million active phone numbers. With about 128 million households in the United States, that averages out to nearly two per household.

Yet, we’ve all experienced the rise of unwanted robocalls, and there are three major reasons why the Do Not Call List is unable to stop all calls.

Problem #1: There Are Loopholes in the Do Not Call Registry

The scope of the registry is limited, and there are loopholes that allow some types of calls to be permitted to all phones, whether the number is on the registry or not.

Calls are permitted from political organizations, non-profit organizations, telephone surveyors, informational calls, debt collectors, and companies that have an existing relationship with the consumer.

This means that even if you’ve added your number to the registry, it’s still legal for you to receive calls about political candidates, solicitations for charity donations, requests to take a survey, and more.

Problem #2: Criminals Don’t Care About the Do Not Call Registry

A major issue is that many of today’s unwanted phone calls are made by fraudsters and criminals. The intent of these illegal calls is malicious, so callers are undeterred by your preference to not be bothered.

For comparison sake, in a situation where criminals are willing to rob a bank, they’re not going to put money in the parking meter out front to avoid a parking ticket.

do not call list effective

Problem #3: Some Legit Businesses May Break the Rules

There are plenty of reasons why a legitimate business might choose to ignore the Do Not Call Registry.

For example, a realtor may want to drum up some business, and may not realize his or her phone calls are in violation of the law. There’s also the issue of negligence as in the case of Edward Jones and Merrill Lynch, both of which were fined by the state of New Hampshire for violations against their residents. Other businesses may feel that it could be profitable to violate the law, and they’re willing to take the risk that they won’t be caught.

Further still, compliance is difficult and costly. Filtering phone numbers through the Do Not Call exemptions requires that businesses register, download the right data files, and parse their internal database.

Plus, the FTC charges businesses to use the Do Not Call List. Data for the first five area codes is free; however, beginning on Oct. 1, 2019, additional area codes cost $65 per year up to the maximum fee of $17,765. Thus, not only will telemarketers potentially lose revenue by excluding listed numbers, but they also could be spending thousands of dollars to do so.

Does the Do Not Call Registry Stop Unwanted Calls?

Even with these loopholes and business violations, consumers take an important step when they register for the Do Not Call List. It’ll protect you from receiving calls from law-abiding businesses, which could mean a significant drop in calls.

Registering also gives you the ability to file a complaint against violators. While a single complaint can seem like an ineffective way to fight against the widespread problem of robocalls, these complaints are looked at in aggregate. If there are a significant number of complaints accumulating against a single business, their violations are more likely to be addressed.

It’s easy to add your phone number to the Do Not Call Registry, and the web app also gives you a tool to double-check that you’ve already registered your number.

Additionally, consumers should be aware that there are existing scams where the robocaller asks you if you want to add your number to the Do Not Call list. Treat those calls as you would any other phone scam; hang up.

Is there a Better Way to Block Unwanted Phone Calls?

The precaution of adding your number to the Do Not Call List is a helpful first step. However, some state agencies recommend switching to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service, which has the high-tech tools to help you fight back against telemarketers and unwanted phone calls and learn more about how to block telemarketers.

Ooma Premier is an advanced phone service providing its customers with revolutionary call-blocking technology that can stop scammers at the network level. Plus, users have full control to customize their call block settings to meet their individual needs.


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With Ooma’s call-blocking app, users can choose their preferred level of call blocking: low, medium, high, or off. Users can also customize their preferences by blocking known spammers that Ooma has identified, suspected spammers that have been flagged by NoMoRobo, anonymous callers who are blocking their Caller-ID information, or on your personal block list. For the ultimate protection, Ooma even gives users a contacts-only option!

Ooma’s custom block lists give you additional tools that go beyond blocking phone numbers one at a time. You can block calls based on their outgoing Caller ID name. For example, as the election season heats up, you can block calls that have a political party name in their Caller ID.

Users can also choose the action that happens with each category of caller. You can choose between a continuous ring, a message that the call has been blocked, and a message that the phone line has been disconnected. Or, you can send the call directly to voicemail without ringing.

With Ooma, you can even keep your same phone number by transferring it from your existing provider. The porting fee is waived with an annual subscription to Ooma Premier.

Learn more about how Ooma Premier can help you take action against robocalls.

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Should you use paid ads or SEO to boost your business’s revenue? Even professional marketers find it difficult to choose. A 2020 survey of 1,000 marketers found that 90% favored SEM while 87% considered SEO to be effective. Find out how to put these strategies into place. Let’s take a closer look at how search engine marketing (SEM), local SEO and content marketing can bring you more customers.

How do search engines like Google boost your revenue?

If you could knock on a customer’s door at the exact moment they thought “I need a plumber,” you would have a very high chance of earning a sale. When you use SEO, you have the ability to appear when customers have a need for your service. For example, if your website is well optimized for a keyword such as “Atlanta plumber,” you could get a steady stream of hot leads coming to your small business from organic search results. That’s good news! Unfortunately, there is also some bad news. Many other companies know the value of SEO, paid ads and local searches. They have invested in creating great websites and have an ad campaign in place. As a result, it is not easy to attract new customers from search engines. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips you can use to get better results.

What are the benefits of pay-per-click ads in mobile search results?

If you need more customers this week, local SEO is not the right strategy. Instead, you should use a pay-per-click (PPC) ad. Whether you use Google Ads or Bing Ads, the process is the same. You only pay when somebody clicks on your ads. Search ads are useful because they only appear when somebody enters a relevant search. For instance, you can place ads for “landscaping service” and only appear in front of people who are within 20 miles of your business. Your customer might be looking at his lawn right now and want a quote from a landscaper. By having a PPC ad, you can get a call from that lead right away. The best part about search ads on Google and Bing Ads is that you can be up and running in less than 24 hours. The trade-off is that you can end up spending a lot of money while you learn the ropes. If you do not have the time to develop these skills, you may decide to outsource search ads and PPC advertising to specialized consultants and agencies. Tip: Once you start running PPC ads, you might get a lot of calls. If you don’t manage those calls effectively, you will miss sales. Use a phone system with extensions (e.g. dial 1 to request a quote, dial 2 for customer service) to make sure you never miss a sales opportunity.

Use landing pages to make life easier for your customers

To get more leads, create landing pages that make it easy for customers to take the next action. A landing page is the webpage you see after clicking a link or an ad. For the best results, your landing page should match your ad. When an ad offers a coupon for $10 off, that coupon code should be featured on the landing page. If you want people to call you, put your phone number front and center in an easy-to-read font. If you need them to fill in a contact form, make that form easy to read and ask for minimal information (e.g. name, phone and email address). There are plenty of landing page tools on the market, such as Unbounce, Instapage and Leadpages that make it easy to create landing pages.

Content marketing: the best way to get long-term traffic to your website

Relying exclusively on search ads is not a wise strategy. After all, you may need to pause your campaigns if you run out of advertising budget. When you pause those campaigns, your ads will stop appearing. With local SEO, you can run a campaign this year and continue to receive leads for years into the future. To achieve those long term results, we recommend using content marketing. Content marketing is the practice of creating content that answers questions. For example, if you run a car dealership, you might create a video or article that explains how to rotate tires quickly. If you create high-quality content, you could be rewarded with traffic to your website when people search for tips in a search engine.

SEM vs. PPC: Each has a role to play in your digital marketing

You can bring more traffic to your website with great content and optimizing your landing pages. However, that is just scratching the surface. For better results, you need an SEM strategy. SEM (i.e. search engine marketing) is a way to organize all of your digital marketing tactics into a coherent strategy. Let’s walk through a simple example. You run a dental office and focus on cosmetic procedures to help your patients look great. Your goal: attract more cosmetic dental patients because they are the most profitable. You put yourself in the shoes of a potential dental patient. What are their questions and concerns about your small business? They may be worried about cost, pain and whether you have a convenient schedule for their needs. Now that you have defined your goal and who you want to attract, create your search ads and local SEO.

Start your search ads campaign: Start your SEM campaign

Using Google Ads, you decide to create ads based on keywords like “cosmetic dentist” and “cosmetic dentist New York.” In your ads, you mention that you offer procedures on Saturday and Sunday. That’s a great way to appeal to patients who have a full schedule.

Local SEO

From an SEO perspective, you decide to start small by answering the top 10 most common questions new patients ask you. In each article, you make sure to use a few relevant keywords. For example, a yoga studio in Chicago might focus on the following keywords: yoga classes Chicago, yoga Chicago and hot yoga Chicago. Once these articles are published, ask your friends to link to your company. If your business sponsors local charities and clubs, ask those companies to link to your website. That is an easy win to get more traffic to your website.

Get started today by choosing one strategy

When you join the ranks of digital marketers, it is tough to get started. There are so many different tools and strategies you can use. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, we recommend choosing either local SEO or search ads as your first focus. After you work on that focus for two to three months, you can evaluate your results and decide whether you want to expand to other strategies.