Giveaway is still going on here (until Friday)! I’ll wait for you to go enter. Promise.
Tonight, my husband got a random telemarketer call. Again.
You wouldn’t think this would be too out of the ordinary, except for a few things. We’re on the do not call list. And it was to his cell phone. From a business that neither of us has ever heard of.
This is what the do not call list is intended to prevent. And the law prohibits telemarketing to cell phones. Period.
For landlines, there are also restrictions once you have been on the national Do Not Call registry for 31 days unless you have an existing business relationship (including asking for information from the company/applying for a product), it is a not-for-profit organization, conducting surveys or political polling, or it is a business line being called. This includes collections calls. However, once you have requested to be placed on that individual do not call list, they must add your number and can no longer call. Oh, and no telemarketer can call outside the hours of 8am to 9pm (your local time).
If someone is violating this, you have recourse. Click here. That will take you to an FTC (Federal Trade Commission, the governmental organization that regulates telemarketing) website where you can fill out a complaint form with as much information about the call as you can remember and provide.
Why would you want to fill out this form? First, it gives the FTC an idea of who to go after to shut down those businesses not following the law. Second (and my favorite reason), violators can be fined up to $11,000 — and no, that’s not a typo — per violation. Depending on how many people they called and how many report it, can you imagine what kind of damage that kind of a fine could do for repeat violators? It kind of makes me smile to think about it.
I rarely get calls on my cell. Very rarely. My work Blackberry, I’ll get some more mostly because a Spanish speaking person (making it fun to get off their lists) paid no bills before abandoning the number that was eventually assigned to me. When I get a telemarketer, I do have a very effective strategy though — when I get a live person.
I interrupt the sales pitch to:
a) ask who is calling to be sure I have the name of the company to file a complaint against
b) request that I be placed on their do not call list — which by law they have to do for ten years
c) ask if they realize they’re calling a cell phone (assuming I’m using a cell), which a violation of FTC regulations — this usually gets some very flustered responses
d) if it is a repeat offender, let them know that I have already requested to be placed on the do not call list and that I am now filing a complaint with the FTC. When I pull out this card, it’s generally the last time I hear from a company.
When my husband walked in the room to complain about the telemarketer, I asked what he did about it. He had just hung up on them. He wasn’t aware of his alternatives, but once I told him he filed a complaint. I didn’t realize this wasn’t common knowledge, and I hope that it helps some of you.
But in order for it to work, you have to sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry here.
There are misconceptions against this, as well. This is not a site that telemarketers can go to and purchase phone numbers. Signing up for it will not increase the solicitations you receive. It does take 31 days for your number to be updated by companies using the database, but it will work. And due to new changes in the law, the registry is permanent for the phone number and not just for five years, as when it was originally created. It is safe. It is secure. And it works.
Just ask my now happy husband.
This Public Service Announcement brought to you by an annoyed consumer who got fed up and read up on all the telemarketing regulations she could find once the do not call registry was created.