I hate telemarketers. With a passion. OK, maybe I don’t hate telemarketers, but I hate the job they perform. I don’t want them to contact me at all—it is a waste of my time and theirs. The problem is almost as bad
The good news is – you have rights which can eliminate almost all telemarketing phone calls to your house! All you have to do is call the National Do Not Call Registry, or register on-line. It is that easy!
Related Information: Opt Out of Pre-screened Credit Card Solicitations and Stop Junk Mail.
Do Not Call List Quick Facts
There is a lot of misinformation out there, so I’d like to clear up a few rumors concerning the Do Not Call Registry:
Rumor 1: The Do Not Call List expired. False. Telephone numbers added to the Do Not Call Registry were originally set to expire after 5 years. The 5 year mark was recently reached for those who signed up in the first days of the program, but Congress put a hold on expirations pending further action on their end. From the National DNC Registry webpage:
Your registration will not expire. The Federal Trade Commission will not drop any telephone numbers from the National Do Not Call Registry based on a five-year expiration period pending final Congressional or agency action on whether to make registration permanent.
Rumor 2: It costs money to register your phone number. False. The DNC Registry is free to sign up for. If you receive a solicitation offering to add your phone number for a fee, it is probably a scam!
Rumor 3: I received an e-mail that stated cell phone numbers are going public next week and I need to register my cell phone before I get telemarketing phone calls! False! This is a popular chain mail internet rumor. In fact, telemarketing to cell phone numbers has always been illegal in most cases and will remain so! “FCC regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers. Automated dialers are standard in the industry, so most telemarketers don’t call consumers on their cell phones without their consent.”
Rumor 4: Cell Phones have to be added to a separate Do Not Call Registry. False. There is only one registry, and you can register your cell phone number there if you like. However, in most cases, telemarketing calls to your cell phone are illegal anyway. I have never had a telemarketing phone call to my cell phone, but go ahead and register your number if it makes you feel better.
Rumor 5: No more registrations will be allowed after this time next week, month, year, etc! False. This is another popular internet rumor. There is no cut-off date or deadline for registrations.
Rumor 6: Placing your number on the registry will stop all telemarketing phone calls. Unfortunately, False. It will stop most, but not all unsolicited phone calls. Phone calls from charities, political organizations, and surveys are allowed, as well as phone calls from companies with which you already do business, or those to whom you’ve provided express agreement in writing to receive their calls.
Rumor 7: Each violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act is punishable by a $500 fine – payable to you. TRUE! Each time a telemarketer calls you, you can sue them in small claims court for $500. If you can prove it, you stand a very good chance of winning! Read a great article about the process of suing telemarketers. Some people make very good money doing this (read: several thousand dollars per year!)
true facts about the Do Not Call registry:
The following information is true about the Do Not Call list.
- The Do Not Call Registry is managed by the Federal Trade Commission.
- Business to Business call are not covered under the registry.
- Your number will be added to the registry within 1 day after submitting your number, but it takes 31 days before telemarketers are required to remove your number from their lists and stop phone calls.
- You can opt in or out at any time. (But who would want to opt out?) 😉
- You can only register up to 3 phones in your name at any one time. That’s fine by me though, I can only talk on 3 at one time before I get my conversations mixed up. 😉
- A business may call you for up to 18 months after your last purchase or delivery from it, or your last payment to it, unless you ask the company not to call again.
- The registry covers phone calls no matter where they originate from – including overseas!
- The Do Not Call list can help you prevent identity theft by limiting your exposure to unwanted and potentially malicious phone calls.
For more information about the Do Not Call Registry, check out the Do Not Call Registry Q&A page.
Using the Do Not Call Registry to Protect Yourself
My wife and I went without a landline for several years before I finally decided to get a landline for my business. There are a lot of benefits of going without a landline, and we didn’t have any problems living without a landline for the last few years. One of my favorite benefits is the lack of telemarketing calls to my mobile phone, since most telemerketers aren’t allowed to call cell phones. I can only count a few calls to my cell phone in the last year or so. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with landlines.
As I mentioned, I got a landline last year, and I immediately registered it with the Do Not Call Registry. The way it works is that your number should be removed from all telemarketer lists within 31 days. After that point, you shouldn’t get any unsolicited calls from businesses you don’t already deal with. There are a few exceptions to this rule:
- The Do Not Call Registry is only for personal lines, not business lines. I mentioned that the line I got was for my business, but it is actually registered in my name as a residential line because I work from home, and registering it under a business name was more expensive. So this wouldn’t apply to me.
- Political organizations can still call you. They are calling me rather frequently as this is an election year, but I simply ask them to remove my number from their lists.
- Not for profits can call you for. I get a few of these per month, and again, I politely ask them to remove my number.
- You can receive calls from companies you already do business with, or have done business with, for up to 18 months after your last purchase, delivery, etc.
- You may still receive calls from survey companies.
- You can receive calls from creditors or bill collection agencies. However, they still need to be within the law.
- See the Do Not Call Registry Q&A page for more info on these topics.
Note about calls from charities: It’s best not to take unsolicited phone calls from charities. There are many charity scams out there. The best thing to do is to take the charity name and information down, then research it on your own. If you decide to give, call the number listed on their website. Never give money after receiving an unsolicited phone call.
How to Stop Telemarketers
The first thing you should do is register with the Do Not Call Registry. That should stop the majority of the calls, with the exceptions listed above. But I can pretty much guarantee you that it won’t stop all calls. You are highly likely to receive a lot of phone calls from companies who ignore the DNC rules. In some cases, the calls are simply annoying, but in other cases, they are illegal, and can be designed to steal your identity, sell you fraudulent products, or otherwise rip you off.
Here are some steps to help get those telemarketers, fund-raisers, non-profits, and other people to stop making unsolicited calls to your land line:
- Ask them to remove your number. This has a high success rate, but isn’t guaranteed.
- Call them back. Most companies automatically route you to an automated message that states something along the lines of “You have received a call from a commercial company. If you would like to have your number removed from this list, please dial 1 now.” When you click the number one, you will hear a message stating that your number will be removed within 24 hours, or something similar. Note: Some people prefer not to call these numbers back as it confirms your number is legitimate and may lead to more robo calls.
- Blacklist the number. Many telephone companies will allow you block telephone numbers with good reason and some newer phones have the ability to block numbers as well. This is a common feature with VoIP providers such as Ooma.
- Report them. Filing a complaint with the Do Not Call Registry isn’t guaranteed to stop them from calling you right away, but the FTC takes these complaints seriously.
I’ll be the first to say that you won’t be able to stop all unsolicited phone calls, but taking these steps will reduce the number of calls you receive and reduce your frustration.
How to File a Complaint with the Do Not Call Registry
Filing a complaint is easy – it takes about 2 minutes. Just visit this link and fill out the form. Before you do it, make sure you are making a valid complaint. You can file a complaint when a company you don’t already do business with calls you 31 days after you added your number to the Do Not Call List, or when you receive a recorded call instead of a call from a live person. The last one was news to me, but I realized I’ve been getting a lot of those lately.
The FTC has a separate form for registering complaints against debt collectors. Click Here to access that list.
To fill out the complaint, you will need to verify the nature of the call, then click continue. In Step one you add your phone number, the date and time of the call, and whether or not it was a recorded phone call.
In step two you enter the number that called you, the name of the business (if known), verify whether you have done business with them in the last 18 months and whether or not you have asked the company to stop calling you. The DNC Registry also asks for your permission to contact you (this is voluntary, but may be helpful in their investigation). Finally, they ask for any comments about the incident.
Here is an example of a recent complaint I filed with the FTC in regard to a series of unsolicited phone calls I received from a mortgage company:
This company has celled me repeatedly during the last week, and they were very aggressive about verifying my identity and the nature of my home loan when they called. They were also very evasive when I asked them more information about their company, including their full company name, contact information, physical address, website address, or other information. After I asked for more information,they hung up on me. I redialed their number and received an automated response stating this was a commercial phone call and which gave me the option to opt out by pressing 1. I did this and continued to receive phone calls with the same results.
As you can see, this was an unpleasant phone call, and one I wish to avoid in the future. More importantly, it has the hallmark designs if a scam or fraudulent company. They need to be reported and stopped before they scam too many people. Hopefully, filing a complaint with the Do Not Call Registry will have a hand in shutting them down, even if it is only temporary.
Worried About Identity Theft?
If you are worried that your personal information may have been compromised by a phishing attack or by giving away too much information over the telephone you can monitor your credit reports or other personal data to help monitor and protect yourself. Using a FREE credit monitoring service such as Credit Karma or Credit Sesame will help you monitor account actions related to your name and SSN and help alert you for potential fraudulent activity. You can use these tools to receive a 3-bureau credit report and monitor your credit cards, new financial accounts or applications, address changes, and public records. These are free tools that can help you avoid a very costly disaster!