The National Do Not Call registry -- that list that stops telemarketers from interrupting dinner -- has now topped 200 million phone numbers, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced.
Started in 2003, the registry blocks telemarketers from calling homes to hawk their wares and protects consumer identities.
Consumers can register online at www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236), from the number they wish to register. Telemarketers who call phone numbers on the list risk fines -- Comcast, Dish Network and DirecTV are among the companies that have gotten slapped for violating the registry.
There are some exceptions, though, and some solicitors including those working for charities, political groups and telephone pollsters can still call. If you've done business with a company in the last 18 months, it's also allowed to call your phone number. And if you have a debt, debt collectors are allowed to call even if you are on the list.
Many states also have similar registries separate from the national list. Consumers can typically sign up for those lists through their state's attorney general's office.
Most solicitations to cell phones are prohibited, but consumers can add their cell phone numbers to the FTC's Do Not Call list.
National Do Not Call Registry tops 200 million numbers