Make Telemarketing & Robocall Madness Stop!!

August 24, 2012

By Angie Moreschi:

There’s nothing more annoying than getting one of those automated robocalls where all you hear is a pre-recorded sales message from a telemarketer.  Okay, even worse, is the telemarketing call that starts as a recording, then if you finally do answer out of sheer frustration, you hear a few seconds of silence, before a live person finally answers.  Of course, if you try to ask them who they are and where they’re calling from, you find they are rude and obnoxious and usually hang up. **Click here to learn more and hear some tips from the Federal Trade Commission on what you should do to make the madness stop.

It’s a Scam

The companies that do this telemarketing/robocalling don’t bother to screen out numbers that are on the Do Not Call List, which is why it’s so hard to stop them. Whether it’s a prize promotion, credit card loss protection or debt relief services, whatever you do, DON’T be fooled by them!  “If a company doesn’t care about obeying the law, you can be sure they’re trying to scam you,” said Federal Trade Commission Attorney Kati Daffan.

Why are we getting more calls?

Most of us know this is a scam by now, but  that doesn’t stop them from calling and driving you crazy.  It seems like these frustrating calls are getting more frequent these days, even if you’re on the Do Not Call List. In the past few weeks alone, we’ve gotten several emails from CWN readers expressing frustration and asking for help. “How do you get them to stop calling?” wrote Pamela, and “Who are they?” wrote another reader.

Monthly complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about robocalls have spiked in the past two years, going from 65,000 in the month of October of 2010 to 212,000 in the month of April 2012.

Technology is to blame for the growing number of robocalls.  Companies can now very cheaply make thousands of calls at a time, using auto-dialers.  Most of these companies use a fake caller ID, called “spoofing,” so you don’t know who they are.  They also change their “fake” names and numbers frequently to circumvent having their numbers blocked and to slow authorities down from catching up to them.

When it’s Illegal

Robocalls from companies trying to sell you something are illegal, unless you’ve given them written permission to call you. That’s been the law since September 1, 2009.  On the other hand, while they may still be annoying, political calls, surveys and charitable calls are still legal.

What to do?

This summer, the Federal Trade Commission offered several tips to consumers on what to do when you get these unwanted robocalls:

  • Hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
  • Consider contacting your phone provider and asking them to block the number, and whether they charge for that service. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.
  • Report your experience to the FTC online at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

 Have some fun

Complaining to the FTC and even your Attorney General are good ideas, because the more complaints they get, the more seriously they’ll take the problem and try to do something about it.  Of course, that all takes time.  Meanwhile, go ahead and have a little fun at the telemarketer’s expense if you get a live person.  Click here for a few clever ways you can waste THEIR time.