8 million Do Not Call list complaints, but FTC only took action 83 times

CLEVELAND - "Do not call." It's a service more than 209 million consumers signed up for hoping telemarketing calls would stop, but some say the list just isn't working.

The FTC admits it gets thousands of complaints a day about the Do Not Call list. We get them here at NewsChannel 5 too.

So, what's happening with all these reported problems with the Do Not Call list?

"I just constantly get hammered by telemarketers," Don Brandow said. "They won't take no for an answer, and they will not quit," Brandow said.

Don Brandow is so fed up, he quit answering his phone.

"We've been terrorized in our own home until we can't take it anymore. We're no longer answering our calls. Friend, foe or other leave a message," Brandow recorded on his answering machine.

FTC is hearing from consumers about the Do Not Call list

On average, a million complaints are filed with the FTC every year. More than 8 million in all, but the FTC's records show they only took action 83 times. Originally, we reported 78 times. The Federal Trade Commission called NewsChannel 5 to let us know their website did not have the most up to date information and they are now working on fixing that issue.

"It's not working at all," Brandow said.

The Federal Trade Commission is sending a different message than some consumers.

"I think the Do Not Call list has been very effective," William Maxson of the Federal Trade Commission said.

The FTC has gone after big name violators like DIRECTV, Dish Network, and Columbia House collecting more than $500 million in fines.

"We go after the persons or company that makes the most impact, makes the most number of calls," Maxson said.

The agency only takes action if it's an interstate complaint. So, if you live in Ohio, it's not an FTC issue unless the call is routed out of state.

"We get thousands of complaints a day. Not every complaint is a law violation," Maxson said.

Some calls allowed under Do Not Call list

By law, calls are allowed from political groups, charities, and telephone surveys. If you've had a business relationship with a company within the last 18 months, they can call too. However, you can ask "them" to add you to their own Do Not Call list.

Pre-recorded telemarketing calls also need to give you a way to opt out.

"I have done that," Brandow said and he still is on the list.

So, Brandow opted out of all calls with his own pre-recorded message.

"If we feel like it we'll get back to you. We're tired of being terrorized in our own home," Brandow recorded on his answering machine.

They're harsh words Brandow didn't want to leave.

"I've lived here in this home my whole life. Why should I have to unlist my number and hide from people?" he asked.

Brandow couldn't disconnect the phone, because it's his lifeline to doctors.

"I'm sick. I have cancer, maybe about a year left to go," Brandow said. "They're making the end of my life miserable. All I want to do is die in peace."

We wish Brandow the best.

List does not expire

He and many others I've spoken to thought the Do Not Call List expires. That's no longer the case. A few years after the list started a rule was passed that says your number doesn't expire as long as it's active. But, there are ways to make sure you're on the list.

Click here to see if your number is on the list or to register a new number

Watch our full investigation on NewsChannel 5 during Live on Five.

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