Stopping Telemarketing Calls

Don’t let yourself become a target of deceptive telemarketing calls. When you get that annoying call right in the middle of dinner, your first instinct is to hang up, right?  We’re here to tell you – DON’T DO IT!!!  Telemarketers are like flies at a picnic – they’ll just keep coming back.  To really stop unwanted calls, there are several things that you CAN do:

1. Register your phone number(s) on the National Do Not Call Registry

More than 209 million U.S. number are now registered on the Do Not Call List. Consumers can enroll online for the service that is provided by the FTC and the FCC at www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 from the telephone number that you want to have on the registry.  Register up to three personal home or cell phone numbers at a time on the website, and one number at a time via telephone.  This should stop most (but not all) calls within 31 days of signing up.  According to the FTC, 92% of people who register report receiving fewer calls.  Your number remains on the registry permanently so no renewal is necessary.

Exceptions: Yes, because what’s a rule without an exception?  Political organizations, charities, survey organizations, and companies with whom who have a business relationship (e.g., any company that you have contacted or from whom you have purchased something in the last 18 months) may still call you even if you register your number on the DNCR.  Also, the registry is only for personal phone lines, not business numbers. And if your number is disconnected, you might need to renew your registration.

2. Ask individual companies to put your number on their “Do Not Call” lists
If you do not want to register your number with the National Registry or individual telemarketers are still calling you even after you’ve registered, ask EACH company that contacts you to put you on its Do Not Call list.  Keep a record of when you made the request and any details of future calls from them in case you want to file a complaint.

3. Report violations by filing a complaint

As explained above, 31 days after you register on the National Do Not Call Registry, you should stop receiving most telemarketing calls.  In addition, as per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule, telemarketers have to stick to a few more rules.  For example:

  • Calls cannot be made before 8 am or after 9 pm.
  • Telemarketers must provide their name, the company they represent, and a telephone number or address where you can reach the company.
  • No pre-recorded advertising messages are allowed (must be a live person on the other line).
  • Telemarketers cannot use auto dialers to call cell phones.

If any company violates these rules or calls you 31 days after you register on the DNCR or after you have asked them to remove you from their list (remember the exceptions), you can file a complaint with the FTC and FCC

4.  Sign up for NoMoRobo

Despite the illegality of robo calls and measures such as registration on the Do Not Call list, they still happen with regularity for most households. A new free service might be worth a try however. It goes by the name NoMoRobo, and in 2013 it won a Federal Trade Commission contest for best call blocking software.  Since 2013, the service claims it has stopped over 52 million robocalls.

The service is free to use, however, it only works on landlines that are internet-based (VOIP). The service automatically detects robo calls and blocks them. Users’ phones ring once to let people know the service zapped another one successfully.

5. Sue their pants off

Did you know that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act gives you the right to take violators to court?  The best part is that you may not even have to worry about the hassle and expense of going to federal court in some states – you can sue telemarketers who break the rules in your local small claims court.  For example, UCAN, a California consumer advocacy organization, provides a TCPA resource to help you plan your strategy.

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