It’s someone asking if you’d like to take a short survey. Perhaps you live in a senior lodge and you keep getting calls offering a bargain on a security system. You can respond to some of the callers with a firm but polite “no, thank you” and “please take me off of your list.” But in the world of automation, most of these calls are recordings, forcing you to wait till the end of the sales pitch to press either No. 1 for “more information” or No. 9 for “no thank you.”
Simple? Not really. I can’t tell you how many times I press 9 and the same company calls back again and again. I’ve also pressed 1 to talk to a real live person so I can get taken off of the list, but as soon as I begin that request, the caller hangs up on me. Two days later I get the same call.
The U.S. Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) way back in 1991, but most telemarketing companies either don’t know the law or choose to ignore it. According to the FCC, telemarketers must identify the name of their company on request. Several callers have hung up on me when I made that request. One caller even ignored the question and continued pushing some inane product.
The first thing to do if you’re speaking to live callers is to say – not ask – put me on your do-not-call list. They’re required by law to comply and keep you on the list for a minimum of 10 years. Some will send a follow-up letter confirming that you’ve been put on the do-not-call list. If you request a copy of the list, they’re required by law to send it to you. The TCPA states that once you’re one the list, if a telemarketer calls you again, it owes you $500.
To deter future callers, never order anything from a telemarketer. Since those companies share lists, ordering a product will open the floodgates for other telemarketers. Avoid making toll-free calls from your home phone, and when paying anything by check in the mail, block out your phone number. Don’t put your phone number on any mail-in warrantees.
You can register your number at no cost online at www.donot call.gov or by phone at 888-382-1222 (call from the phone you wish to register). Telemarketers have 31 days from your registration date to remove you from their lists. If you continue to receive unwanted calls after the 31 days, you can file a complaint at FCC Consumer & Government Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries and Complaint Division, 445 12th St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20554 or call 888-225-5322.
Marla Luckhardt is a Discovery Bay resident and member of the East Contra Costa Senior Coalition. She works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. To contact her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.