Stopping the Telemarketers

Sometimes it seems like they will just never stop. Robocalls morning, noon, and night. Even worse than hearing an actual human read from a sales script is hearing a disembodied prerecorded message to which you can’t reply. At least you can tell a human to quit calling you. It is beyond annoying when the phone rings and a computerized voice announces you have won a cruise, need your windows washed, can save money on utility bills, must renew a magazine subscription, or don’t want to miss out on a weekend sale. You ignore them during dinnertime and your voicemail overflows.

National Do Not Call Registry

It would be bad enough if these calls were made only to landlines. Robocalls and text messages to your cell phone, and unwanted faxes spewing out of your copy machine, all cost you money on the receiving end. Unless you have an unlimited data plan, you may very well be charged fees or minutes for the incoming calls. That adds expense to annoyance.

Federal agencies like the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) are doing the best they can – with limited resources and reduced funding from Congress – to enforce consumer protections against the intrusion and nuisance of robocallers. It is a huge problem, because automatic dialers can place thousands of calls to whole phone books, without human intervention on the caller’s part.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (codified at 47 U.S.C. 277 and referred to as the “TCPA” for short) also provides rights and remedies to consumers who have not consented to be called by telemarketers. Often consumers don’t realize that they inadvertently consented in the past (for example, by ignoring a bill stuffer, or the fine print on a sales slip, or “terms & conditions” in an online purchase). The good news is that even if you consented to be called in the past, you can expressly revoke that consent. In addition to actions by the regulatory agencies, the TCPA allows a private right of action for telemarketing abuses and private attorneys bring cases on behalf of individuals and class actions to enforce the law. In some cases you may be entitled to $500.00 per each and every unwanted call.

One way to avoid the calls and to make it crystal clear that that you never consented to them in the first place is to make sure you have taken steps to place all of your phone numbers on the federal Do Not Call list. On the FTC website, just fill in your phone number and email, and follow the instructions. If you have multiple phone lines, you can put in up to three numbers, including land lines, cell phones, and separate fax numbers.It is easy to do this by visiting the website of the Federal Trade Commission or simply by clicking right here.

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