The Do Not Call List

do-not-call-listThe Do Not Call List Is Broken

The Do Not Call List is another new feature on our modern communications landscape, and it’s one I’m not particularly fond of. You see, the Do Not Call List does exactly what you don’t want it to do — it makes your phone number readily available to telemarketers.

To put it in game writer terms, telemarketers are playing a game that the U.S. government and FTC are trying to impose rules upon. Unfortunately, that ruleset has only weak enforcement in the country, and zero weight outside it.

The Do Not Call List Wants To…

The Do Not Call List does function in a remedial, 1970s fashion. I’m not talking bell-bottoms, but close. The List tells telemarketers “don’t call any of these numbers!” and that’s effective for the 1970s-style telemarketers. The ones who follow the rules and are afraid of government enforcement.

Modern telemarketers are, unsurprisingly, a lot like vermin. They scurry around, looking for any kind of quick-hit profit so they can survive to live another day. Bash them once, and they’ll pop up in another spot under another guise, and they don’t give a crap about FTC rules because they’re gone before any slow-footed G-man can get a bead on the source of their stench.

The Do Not Call List Sells Your Phone Number

Yep. You’d think it was some piece of bad conspiracy game writing, but no, just go to the Do Not Call List telemarketer service site and look at the menu on the left side. Item #6 is “DOWNLOAD PHONE NUMBERS.” That’s an eye-opener all right — the farmer throwing the henhouse door wide open for the foxes.

It’s actually not that bad, because they require telemarketers to register and pay for the information. And how can they tell telemarketers “don’t call these people!” if the telemarketers don’t know which people not to call?

On the other hand, what’s to stop a telemarketer from using the Do Not Call List as their hotsheet for suckers? Or from selling the list to another firm?

Probable Do Not Call Safeguards

If the FTC has any smarts, they’ve seeded the list with phony names and numbers that they use to monitor abuse just like I mentioned. Unfortunately, for the modern telemarketer, or any overseas operation, I don’t see how they can make anything stick. Have you ever heard of the FTC extraditing telemarketers? I don’t think so.

Getting Off the Do Not Call List

Removing yourself from the list is easy, but you have to look hard to find it. From the FTC website:

7. What if I change my mind? Can I take my number off the National Do Not Call Registry?
You can de-register your phone number from NDNC by calling or sending SMS to toll-free 1909 saying ‘STOP DND‘. It will be removed from the National Do Not Call Registry within next 45 days.

The NDNC number is 1-888-382-1222. This game writer was getting two regular calls every morning, and I finally had myself removed. The calls went away. However, I still get the occasional call, and that’s where I experience the downside.

Why You Might Want to Stay on the List

While you’re on the list, you have a legal foot to stand on. You can hit the Do Not Call List website or the more elaborate and detailed FCC telemarketing complaint page and get the law on your side. No guarantees on what they’ll do, and I’ve certainly never heard a peep from the gov when I’ve reported violators, but it’s theraputic.

Now that I’m off the list, I really can’t do anything about telemarketers except curse them. Or you can do what we used to do at the office, which is waste their time. You said, “Sure, I’m interested in that product! Hold on a minute!” and then put the phone down for about 5. Then pick it up and apologize and see how long you can string ’em along. It’s good fun and hits them where it hurts. Too bad it doesn’t work on machines.

Lastly, here’s a little tidbit for your amusement. It’s a document describing the Do Not Call List — for India. That’s right. Americans aren’t the only ones being telemarketed to, so you can relax and stop feeling so special.


Do good.


Do Good Now

Do good while doing nothing? How about working on a cure for cancer while picking your nose? How many of you can do that? That’s what I’m doing today. I’m gonna do good while doing absolutely nothing.

Okay, to tell the truth, I’m going to do good by installing the World Community Grid applet. And yes, it will do its good work – solving a small share of giant computing problems like a cure for cancer – using my PC whenever I’m not using the CPU.

Other do-good-er tasks that the World Community Grid is tackling include mapping human proteomes, researching rice proteins to help farmers raise better crops, and finding ways to cure dengue fever and AIDS. Sponsored by IBM and a number of major unis, the World Community Grid is a fantastic, safe, free way for you to do good while sitting on your butt.

If you’re familiar with the SETI screensaver, you know the concept. Do good while doing nothing. Except, frankly, I think a cure for cancer is a helluva lot more likely, and will do more good, than discovering bug-eyed monsters from the Sci-Fi Channel.

Do Good at Work

If you’re an IT professional, at a game design contractor or elsewhere, you should see if you can get some of your execs or your CTO on board with this particular do-good opportunity. A large corporation or even a corporate department can have hundreds of idle computers at any given moment.

Those clock cycles could be doing good things instead of running around empty-headed. Idle hands are the devil’s playground! Get that silicon to do some good work!

How to Do Some Good with Your Idleness

Ok, here’s the link to the World Community Grid. Get out there and do some good.