How to Put a Stop to Telemarketing Harassment

Just say "no" to protect yourself from telemarketing harassment: Internet Scambusters #430

Despite consumer protection laws and the advent of the National Do Not Call Registry, it seems we can't escape telemarketing harassment.

According to one report, 100,000 people complain about it every month, even though three quarters of all Americans have listed with the registry.

In this issue, we explain who can and can't call you and how to put a stop to aggressive telemarketers.

First, we recommend you check out the most popular articles from our other sites during the past week:

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Specialty Wood: Your Secret Weapon for Flavorful Meat: Let's talk a little about how to use specialty wood, and how to find out which ones you like best.

You Don't Have to Follow Complicated Knitting Instructions: Knitting instructions don't have to be too complicated for you to be able to knit for charity!

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention: 7 Simple Ways to Avoid Type 2 Diabetes: Make type 2 diabetes prevention tops on your health list with these simple changes in your lifestyle.

On to today's main topic...

How to Put a Stop to Telemarketing Harassment

Around three-quarters of all Americans have signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry in a bid to escape the bane of telemarketing harassment.

But that doesn't stop hordes of unscrupulous firms from ignoring the list (and, in doing so, breaking the law) or hundreds of organizations who are exempted from the rules and permitted to call you whenever they want.

And usually, whenever they want is whenever you don't want -- like dinner time or when the next episode of your favorite TV series is about to start.

What's more, some of these callers are both persistent and aggressive, causing us personal stress and railroading us into buying things we don't want.

In fact, according to the newspaper USA Today, the Federal Trade Commission, which administers the Do Not Call list, receives an incredible 100,000 complaints a month about telemarketer harassment.

We've covered the registration issue in a previous report, The National Do Not Call List.

However, that report was written before a change in the law which now means that, once you're on the list, it's permanent; you never have to renew registration (though you can opt to remove it if you wish).

The fastest way is to register online.

The whole process takes just a couple of minutes. And if your area code subsequently changes, your registration will update automatically.

Some of those telemarketing harassment complaints we mentioned undoubtedly will be due to misunderstandings about who can and who can't call you, so let's look at that first.

Who Can and Can't Call You

Once your name is on the Do Not Call Registry, commercial companies can't call you to solicit businesses. They usually maintain their own call lists and have to check these against the Do Not Call list every month, removing names of anyone who has registered.

However political parties can still call you. So can firms you've done business with, even if you merely contacted them in the prior 18 months -- though they must desist if you ask them to.

Charities also are exempt, but if they use a telemarketing firm on their behalf, again they must honor any request to stop calling.

A somewhat gray area has appeared for companies conducting telephone surveys. Legitimate surveyors are permitted to call you and this has prompted some unscrupulous firms to call, claiming to be conducting a survey when, in fact, they're soliciting. If they are, they're breaking the law.

Telemarketing Harassment Techniques

Whether your caller is a scammer or a legitimate firm trying to sell you a product or service, they know that very few call recipients are going to say "yes" right off the bat.

They'll try to convince you, wear you down, or even use threats.

The techniques they use include:

Protect Yourself Against Telemarketer Harassment

Like spam, you can never eliminate these calls but there are lots you can do to cut the amount of telemarketing harassment.

Final Words

You can use most of the above approaches even if you get calls from people who are exempt from the Do Not Call rules. Just be firm and polite.

You'll find some excellent further information from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Although targeted at investors, it also offers general guidance on the whole subject of telemarketing harassment.

Beware also of anyone who calls you claiming to be from the Do Not Call Registry.

The organization does not call consumers either to discuss their listing or to invite them to register.

So it's a scam, either as an opening to a sales call or to try to get hold of some of your personal information for identity theft.

In the age of the Internet, it may seem that the telephone is declining in importance, but most of us are now using those very devices to access the web.

Telemarketing harassment, like spam, isn't going to disappear anytime soon, so make sure you're on the Do Not Call Registry and that when unwanted callers manage to evade that, politely and firmly just say "no."

Time to close -- we're off to take a walk. See you next week.


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