Consumers wanting to opt out of telemarketing calls can now list their numbers on a national Do-Not-Call (DNC) registry, a month ahead of the official launch.
If they make an early registration, they can expect to block unwanted telemarketing calls and text messages from Jan 2 next year, when the registry is launched. But those who list their numbers later - after the launch - may still have to put up with 30 to 60 days of unwanted calls.
When a company checks its call list with the registry, the numbers on its list are valid for 60 days if they are not on the DNC registry - after which it must check again before making a sales pitch on the phone, through fax, or via SMS or MMS. The validity period will be cut to 30 days from next July.
Consumers who receive telemarketing calls despite having listed their numbers on the registry can complain to a watchdog called the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC). They may register through the website at www.dnc.gov.sg, or by text message by sending "DNC" to 78772 to block calls, text messages and fax messages; "DNC" to 78773 to block calls only; "DNC" to 78774 to block text messages only. They may also register by phone at 1800-248-0772 to block calls, text messages and fax messages; 1800-248-0773 to block calls only; or 1800-248-0774 to block text messages only.
Mr Leong Keng Thai, chairman of the PDPC said: "Consumers now have the flexibility to decide if and how they want to receive telemarketing messages. This also means consumers have a greater role to play in protecting their own data. The PDPC will monitor market developments and ensure that the DNC Registry benefits individuals and organisations."
Telemarketers found to be guilty of defying the registry rules risk a maximum $10,000 fine. The DNC registry is a key part of the the new Personal Data Protection Act, which aims to protect personal information from being stolen or indiscriminately collected and used for marketing. The Act took effect on Jan 2 this year and the government-funded registry is a key part of it.