There are several methods available to reduce unwanted telemarketing calls. Your telephone company has several options on their books. There are also a few common sense practices that require no paper work. Some of the more tricky ones you might not have considered. The first step is to join all of the do-not-call lists for which you qualify.
Do not call lists come in three varieties. There is a National Do-Not-Call Registry, individual state registries, and individual company lists. Rules for the individual state lists vary. Please refer to the links that will follow for each state’s information.
RULES FOR THE NATIONAL DO NOT CALL LIST:
- Soliciters must provide their name, the name of the business, and a telephone number or address where they can be contacted.
- Telemarketers may not call between 9pm and 8am.
- They must comply with any request to be removed from their call list.
- Consumers must only register home numbers and cell numbers. No business numbers will be allowed.
- Entities exempt from the do-not-call list include: charities, businesses to whom you have expressed permission to call, and businesses with which you have an established business relationship (EBR).
- EBRs exist if you have made an inquiry or purchase, or if you have placed
an application with a business. This is in effect for 18 months after a purchase and 3 months after an inquiry or application.
- This list does not protect against prank callers. For this type of problem, please contact your local authorities.
TO REGISTER WITH THE NATIONAL DO NOT CALL REGISTRY:
1. Go to www.donotcall.gov (1)
2. Dial (888) 382-1222
3. Dial (866) 290-4236 TTY system for the hearing impaired.
AUTODIALERS AND ARTIFICIAL AND PRERECORDED VOICE CALLS:
The FCC’s website (2) discusses other rules
applicable to all home phone numbers whether you are registered on a list or not. Autodialers may not be used to call numbers assigned to:
- an emergency phone line.
- lines to patient rooms at hospitals, health care facilities, homes for the elderly, or other such establishments.
- a paging service, wireless phone service, or other commercial mobile radio service.
- any other service for which the person being called would be charged for the call.
Prerecorded or artificial voice calling is only allowed to home numbers when it is:
- an emergency call to ensure the consumers health or safety.
- a call which you have given prior consent.
- a non-commercial call.
- a call that is not a non-solicited ad.
- a call in behalf of charity.
- a call from a business with which you have an EBR.
They must also:
- identify the business at the beginning of the call.
- give a telephone number to reach a live person during normal business hours.
- display their number and identity on caller id (”Unavailable” is not acceptable for prerecorded or artifical messages).
- release your phone line within 5 seconds of your hanging up.
- not tie up more than one line to a business at a time for business calls
STATES THAT HAVE MERGED WITH THE NATIONAL DO NOT CALL LIST:
When the national do-not-call list was updated in 2003, most states hopped on board and integrated their list with the national one. Residents in the following states are now advised to sign up with the national registry.
- Alabama (3)
- Alaska (4)
- Arizona (5)
- Arkansas (6)
- California (7)
- Connecticut (8)
- Delaware (9)
- Georgia (10)
- Hawaii (*)
- Idaho (11)
- Illinois (12)
- Iowa (13)
- Kansas (*)
- Kentucky (14)
- Maine (15)
- Maryland (16)
- Michigan (17)
- Minnesota (18)
- Montana (19)
- Nebraska (20)
- Nevada (21)
- New Hampshire (22)
- New Jersey (23)
- New Mexico (24)
- New York (25)
- North Carolina (26)
- North Dakota (27)
- Ohio (28)
- Rhode Island (29)
- South Carolina (30)
- South Dakota (31)
- Utah (32)
- Vermont (33)
- Virginia (34)
- Washington (35)
- West Virginia (36)
*unable to find information on these states’ .gov page regarding do not call lists.
TO REGISTER ON YOUR STATE’S DO-NOT-CALL LIST:
If your state was not previously mentioned, then it maintains a do not call list of its own. For information on signing up with your state’s list see the links below:
- Colorado (37)
- Florida (38)
- Indiana (39)
- Louisiana (40)
- Massachusetts (41)
- Mississippi (42)
- Missouri (43)
- Oklahoma (44)
- Oregon (45)
- Pennsylvania (46)
- Tennessee (47)
- Texas (48)
- Wisconsin (49)
- Wyoming (50)
Note: Residents of these states may sign up for both lists: the national one, and their individual state’s.
BUSINESS SPECIFIC NO-CALL LISTS:
All companies conducting telemarketing must maintain a do-not-call list of their own. This catalogues all the individuals who have asked that company to specifically remove them from their call list. As stated before, a company must remove a telephone number if asked to do so. One point needs clarified: asking one business to remove you from their list does not mean that other companies cannot call you. You must try to get on the list of each business that attempts to reach you.
GENERAL TIPS TO REDUCE CALLS:
Get your number unlisted and unpublished. When you receive a new number you get the option to keep that number unlisted. This means it will not be included in their phone book. However, this does not mean that the telephone company cannot sell your number. Most telephone companies publish a cdrom with a database of their customer’s numbers. These are available to any telemarketing company. To stop this practice you may want to ‘unpublish’ your number. Unpublished numbers cannot legally be sold to any business. Unlisting and unpublishing your number will generally cost a small fee. Please check with your local telephone provider if you are interested in one of these options.
Many businesses will try to ‘capture’ your number when you call them. This is exactly like the caller id feature on your phone. As previously stated, after a call of this type they will legally be allowed to call you for a minimum of three months. If you are calling a local number you can punch in *67 before your call (wait for the dial tone again before you type in the number). If you are calling an 800 or 900 number, *67 will not work. If you are still concerned, try calling the company from a pay phone. They will not get your number that way!
Another simple tactic is to keep your number to yourself! Don’t give it out! You can keep an alternate number for such purposes. People are asked every day to fill out forms that include a telephone number. Sometimes it is just not necessary. Maybe that .000000001 percent chance for a trip to Hawaii is not all that important. Use your head when asked for your number. Ask them why they need it. It may be legitimate. They may need to call you back for service or to schedule an appointment, for instance.
Many people screen their calls today. Everyone probably has at some point. This is not a bad tactic. You can still keep in touch easily. Tell anyone that you would not mind talking with to leave a message when they call. Let them know that if you are home, you will pick up. Have your answering machine pick up quickly (2nd or 3rd ring) so that you don’t have to wait around listening to the phone ring. You can also utilize your caller id to see who is calling.
States that have their own do-not-call list and many that do not will take consumer complaints regarding telemarketing. Please visit the website listed for your state. For filing complaints on the national do-not-call list, travel to donotcall.gov to file a complaint form (51).
GET AN ANSWERING SERVICE:
Regular people actually do this. You would be suprised! There are a couple of ways you can go about it. One would be just to have them answer your home phone line. The call center operators will screen out all the telemarketers and give you only important messages when you ask for them, or you can request to be paged or called on your cell phone for actual emergencies.
Another option is to get a second phone line. Have that number be the one listed in the phone book and use it when you give out information to businesses. Answering services can handle your calls to this line however you deem appropriate. For information on answering services, please click here (52).
Telemarketers can be a huge nuisance. They can also waste valuable time and money. If you follow the suggestions listed in this article it will greatly reduce the number of solicitations to your line. There are no complete, fail-safe methods to eliminate every call, but there are measures in place to report the ones that do get through. Hopefully you are now more aware of these options and are able to prevent the majority of calls from ever happening!
4. Department of Law, Alaska