File a complaint about a telemarketer
If you have registered for the Do Not Call Registry by August 31, 2003, you should no longer receive calls from most telemarketers after October 17, 2003, unless they are exempt. Afterwards, it will take up to three months from the date of registration before telemarketers must stop calling you. After three months, if you receive a call from a telemarketer who is not exempt, you may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. The law gives telemarketers a "safe harbor" when they erroneously contact individuals listed in the National Registry. A telemarketer is not liable for violating the National Do Not Call rules if it can demonstrate the call was made in error. A call is considered erroneous if a telemarketer can show that it has taken the necessary steps to comply with laws regarding the National Registry and its company-specific do not call list. These include personnel training, written policies, and updating its calling list with new national registrants every three months.The following are instances where you should consider filing a complaint against a telemarketer. If you:
- Are on the Do Not Call Registry and are contacted by a telemarketer who is not exempt. Receive a telemarketing call that you believe is a scam or is misleading.
- Are solicited to pay a fee to join the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Are not put on a company's company-specific do not call list after requesting to be.
- Have received a junk fax without having an existing business relationship with the sender.
You will need to compile as much information about the company as possible to include with your complaint: the company's phone number as transmitted through Caller ID or your fax machine, or provided verbally by the telemarketer, the name of the company, and date of the call or fax. If the telemarketer says it is calling on behalf of another company, you can ask for the name of the telemarketing company in addition to the name of the company on whose behalf they are calling. Do not forget to provide your phone number on the complaint, especially if you are listed on the National Registry. If you are complaining about a junk fax, be sure to provide your fax number on the complaint.
Both the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission can fine telemarketers up to $11,000 per violation. This fine can be assessed for each phone call to a number that is subscribed to the registry. (16 CFR 1.98) Both the FCC and FTC will share complaints with each other and with states' attorneys general for possible action against telemarketers who violate state and federal laws. The following is a guideline for determining which agency to file a telemarketing or junk fax complaint with.
Complaints may be made to:
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - Registry violations
- Types of complaints: Telemarketers who violate the Do Not Call Registry.
- Telephone: (888) 382-1222TDD: (866) 290-4236
- Online complaint form: https://www.donotcall.gov/Complain/ComplainCheck.aspx
- For general information about the FTC's National Do Not Call Registry, implemented October 2003, visit its web site at www.ftc.gov/donotcall.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - deceptive business practices
- Types of complaints: Telemarketers who make misleading claims and who participate in possible scams.
- Telephone: (877) FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)TTY: (866) 653-4261
- Online complaint form: https://rn.ftc.gov/pls/dod/wsolcq$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU01
- To mail your compliant:
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20580
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- Types of complaints: Telemarketing calls involving financial institutions, insurance companies, telecommunications carriers, intra-state telemarketers, and junk faxes. Also takes complaints about telemarketers who do not comply with company-specific do not call requests.
- Telephone: (888) CALL-FCC (888-225-5322)
- TDD: (888) TELL-FCC (888-835-5322)
- Online complaint form: www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html
- Email complaints: email@example.com
- To mail your complaint:
Federal Communications Commission
Common Carrier Bureau, Consumer Information
445 12th St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
- California Office of the Attorney General (AG)
- Types of complaints: Telemarketing calls to residents within the state that are possible
scams, that make fraudulent claims, or are misleading, including bogus Do Not Call Registry solicitations
- Telephone: (800) 952-5225Calls from outside of California: (916) 322-3360
- Online complaint form: www.ag.ca.gov/consumers/mailform.htm
- To mail your complaint, first obtain the form by calling the AG at (800) 952-5225, or
printing it from the AG's web site:
California Attorney General
Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
- Other states' Attorneys General
The National Association of Attorneys General provides a 50-states directory at
- Public Utilities Commissions (PUC) and Public Service Commissions (PSC)
These state agencies regulate telephone calls and telecommunication services in many states.
For contact info. for your state's PUC or PSC, see:
- Small Claims Court
If you ask a company to put you on the company-specific do not call list and they call you back within 12 months, you can also file a claim against them in small claims court.