WASHINGTON – People fed up with unwanted telemarketing can sign up in July for a national do-not-call list that will block many sales calls, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.
The FTC will launch a Web site on July 1 so consumers can register online for the free service, the agency said.
The FTC also will begin an eight-week rollout of a toll-free phone number where people also can register for the list. The number will first work on the West Coast and then spread across the country until it is available nationwide by the end of August.
Beginning in September, telemarketers will have to check the list every three months to determine who does not want to be called. Those who call listed people could be fined up to $11,000 for each violation. Consumers would be able to file complaints by phone or online to an automated system.
The government said it will begin enforcing the do-not-call list in October.
The Web site address and phone number will be announced in June, the FTC said. People would need to renew their registration every five years.
More than two dozen states already have their own do-not-call lists or legislation pending that would create them. Most states plan to add their lists to the national registry.
Telemarketers say the registry will devastate their industry, endanger millions of jobs and send ripples through the economy. The Direct Marketing Association, an industry group, has sued the FTC on grounds the registry amounts to an unlawful restriction on free speech.
The registry will be financed by fees collected from telemarketers and cost about $16 million in its first year.
There are exceptions to the FTC's do-not-call protections.
A company may call someone on the list if that person has bought, leased or rented from the company within the past 18 months. Telemarketers also can call people if they have inquired or applied for something from the company during the past three months.
Charities, surveys and calls on behalf of politicians also are exempt.
The FTC has limited authority to police telemarketing calls from certain industries, including airlines, banks and telephone companies. The Federal Communications Commission, which oversees calls made by those industries, has been working with the FTC and is considering adding its clout to the program.