FTC Votes to Raise DNC Access Fees

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Despite industry opposition, the Federal Trade Commission issued its final rule yesterday revising the fee structure for companies that access the national no-call registry.

The new rule raises per-area-code costs from $45 to $56 and the maximum fee for 280 area codes or more from $12,375 to $15,400. It is the second time the FTC has increased the rates. The FTC has said the higher fees are needed because more telemarketers qualified for free access to the registry than expected, while fewer telemarketers than expected have paid. Telemarketers accessing five area codes or fewer as well as nonprofit telemarketers are exempt from the fees.

The American Teleservices Association and Direct Marketing Association lobbied to stop the new fee structure but failed to sway the commission, which voted 4-0 to issue the final rule. The new rates take effect Sept. 1.

Telemarketers are required to renew their subscriptions to the no-call registry once a year and must remove registered numbers from their call lists once every 31 days.

Subscriptions can be renewed up to 30 days before a subscription has expired. Subscriptions also are renewable after they expire. The new 12-month subscription period will run from the first day of the month in which an organization renews, regardless of whether it renews before or after its current subscription ends.

Originally, the cost for access was $25 per area code and a maximum of $7,375. The current rates took effect Jan. 1.

The DMA argued that more than 20 million of the 98 million telephone numbers on the registry belong to cell phones. Many of those cell phones were registered late last year when e-mails circulated among consumers falsely claiming that a directory of cell phone numbers soon would be published and made available to telemarketers.

Telemarketing to cell phones without express consent is already illegal, so it makes no sense to have them on the registry, the DMA said. But telemarketers pay the cost of housing those numbers on the registry.

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