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Hold the phone! 'Do not call' list will not expire

It's 6 p.m., and your family is sitting down to supper. The phone rings. You pick it up, say hello, there's a pause and then someone on the other end asks if you would like to buy a useless product. And the calls aren't just in the evening or weekdays. They don't end.

In case you can't get the phone hung up quickly enough, there's a Do Not Call Registry through the Federal Trade Commission to file a phone number and cut back on those annoying calls.

The Do Not Call Registry came to light in June 2003. With an expected five-year time span of being on the list, people are now questioning whether their phone numbers will be released and telemarketers will calling at all hours again.

The government promises that won't be allowed to happen.

"The Commission now commits that it will not drop any telephone numbers from the Registry based on the five-year expiration period, pending final Congressional or agency action on whether to make registration permanent," Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Lydia Parnes said.

Registering a phone number is simple. Either visit and type in the number and an e-mail address for confirmation, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want registered. You can register up to three phones at once online.

Once registered, it can take up to 30 days to be added to the list and the phone calls to decrease.

The Registry list holds 145 million phone numbers. When it began, the commission agreed to the five-year purge of numbers to weed out those that had been disconnected or reassigned.

Instead, the Registry has found a program to clean out those disconnected and reassigned numbers on a monthly basis.

So, rest easy, numbers won't be released after the five-year anniversary is up.

With the increasing use of cell phones, there is no need to worry about those numbers being released either.

While most telemarketers use an automated dialer, the Federal Communications Commission prohibits automated dialers being used to call cell phones. Therefore, most telemarketers are banned from calling cell phones.

The national Do Not Call Registry accepts both landline and cell phone numbers.

Mitch Katz, public affairs with the Federal Trade Commission, said the FTC is waiting for Congress to pass a law making the Registry permanent. Until that happens though, hopefully by June, the commission has promised not to drop any numbers.