Why were our numbers removed from the Do Not Call list?
February 9, 2007 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Why were all of our household's phone numbers -- through separate phone companies -- recently removed from the (US) National Do Not Call list? The reasons given on the website don't seem to apply.

Today I received an annoying telemarketer call. I went to https://www.donotcall.gov/ to report it as a Do Not Call violation, as I occasionally do when this happens. (We've been on the list at this number since day one, and our other numbers have been on the list for some time as well.)

I was surprised to see that all of our household's numbers, both landline and cell, were no longer on the DNC list. (Which explains the uptick in telespam we've noticed recently. Until then, the DNC list had worked really well for us.) According to the DNC site, the ways one might be removed are as follows:
  • Call from the listed number and ask to be removed
  • Your phone number is disconnected, then reconnected
  • You change calling plans (!) or other services
  • You change the billing name on the account
  • Also, after 5 years your registration expires -- but the list hasn't even been up for 5 years yet, so this isn't the issue.
We haven't done any of these things. And what's stranger is that our cell phones and landline are not through the same company, so even if the company had done something to cause this, it wouldn't be likely to happen to all the phones.

Is it possible that telespammers have figured out some sneaky way to remove people from the DNC list? Has this happened to others, and do you have any ideas why all of our numbers might have been knocked off the list like this, since the reasons given at the donotcall.gov site don't seem to apply? Was there a massive data loss in the DNC database?

I've re-added all the numbers, but it's quite annoying, and it is 31 days until you can start reporting violations again.
posted by litlnemo to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
I cannot imagine it would be worth a phone solicitor's time and effort to remove you so they could call. What they want is likely leads. This will piss off folks.

My guess is that someone "pranked" you or the DNC had a technical glitch they do not know about or are not 'fessing up to.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:00 PM on February 9, 2007

I'd go with "prank", myself.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:05 PM on February 9, 2007

Or, a competitor of the alleged company that called you was the actual caller, in an attempt to grief the competition.
posted by pjern at 7:11 PM on February 9, 2007

Response by poster: solopsist, that's not the question I was asking. (The company that called refused to identify themselves anyway, and hung up when I pressed the matter.)
posted by litlnemo at 7:19 PM on February 9, 2007

Call from the listed number and ask to be removed

This strikes me as the easiest to fake, and the hardest to disprove. Telemarketers drool over numbers on the do not call list, partly because lots of the customers behind them have been rendered vulnerable by age or infirmity, and if you found some way of removing a bunch of numbers from the list, you would have no trouble finding a buyer for that information, and, as far as I know, there is no responsibility for the telemarketer to determine that numbers are legitimately off the list.
posted by jamjam at 9:39 PM on February 9, 2007

Do you use bell south? Perhaps the AT&T merger did something.
posted by muddylemon at 12:39 AM on February 10, 2007

Response by poster: No Bell South. And our cell phones are a different company from our landline.
posted by litlnemo at 1:41 AM on February 10, 2007

Response by poster: And jamjam, I do wonder about the technology they use to be sure that you called from the listed number. If it's just Caller ID, that can be faked, right? I can sort of imagine some system that would take a pile of numbers and go through the automated process to remove them from the list.

"I cannot imagine it would be worth a phone solicitor's time and effort to remove you so they could call. What they want is likely leads. This will piss off folks. "

Ah, but that would be logical thinking, and the telemarketers have never been good at that. Remember how they fought tooth and nail to keep the DNC list from happening, and how quite a few of them regularly violate it now. Lots of them want you to hear their message whether you want their calls or not.
posted by litlnemo at 1:44 AM on February 10, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for speculating, folks -- I knew it was likely no one would have an answer, but was hoping someone might have something. :)
posted by litlnemo at 2:37 AM on February 13, 2007

Response by poster: Oh, you typoed your phone number? Darn, for a moment I thought we had another example of this.

I guess it's going to remain a mystery.
posted by litlnemo at 4:57 AM on March 6, 2007

Response by poster: Added info: see also this thread in which at least one person also had their number removed from the DNC list for an unknown reason.
posted by litlnemo at 2:50 AM on April 19, 2007

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