Don't Call Me Again!

Earlier this year, some US consumers who put their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry were advised that they had to renew their registration, which was set to expire after five years, or be dropped from the list. No more.

89%Percentage of Americans who have a cell phone.(Harris Poll, 2008)

Earlier this year, some US consumers who put their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry were advised that they had to renew their registration, which was set to expire after five years, or be dropped from the list. No more.

The US Congress passed a law back in February that will allow the numbers that are now on the rolls to remain there permanently, unless the number is disconnected or assigned to another telephone customer. If you haven’t yet joined the 150 million consumers who are blocking unwanted telemarketing calls, go to the National Do Not Call Registry and add your phone number (only home and cell numbers can be listed, not businesses) to the record.

Under the law, telemarketers may not call you after your number has been listed for 31 days. Exceptions are charities, companies that you have a business relationship with, and, unfortunately, political parties. Some shady telemarketers, however, are using a liberal interpretation of those rules or ignoring them completely to sell services like credit card debt consolidation and extended automobile warranties.

You can complain about these calls to the Federal Trade Commission, but the odds are that the scammers will just set up shop somewhere else and continue doing business. If your phone system has Caller ID, however, a couple of solutions may be available to you. One is the blanket block, which stonewalls calls from any person or organization that doesn’t allow ID information to appear on your telephone. This is a somewhat drastic solution since it might also stop calls from friends and colleagues who block their ID info.

Another way out, offered by many phone systems, is the selective block, which lets you enter a limited number of specific phone numbers that you want to deny access to. A third solution is just not to answer calls that don’t display the name of the caller or organization on your ID screen. If the call is legitimate, the person on the other end can leave a voice mail message.

“An amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one?”—President Rutherford B. Hayes speaking about the invention of the telephone in 1877.

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