Are you ready to kill the next telemarketer that calls your house? Would you stop at nothing to thwart them at their own game? Read on for some advice and a smile.
"Time waits for no man or woman . . . except telemarketers" The Dorfman Archives
Have you had it with telemarketers? Are you just about ready to murder the next one that dares to call your house? Dont their calls always come the moment you are about to sit down to dinner or watch your favorite television show? And isnt it wonderful when they get your name wrong and/or struggle with the pronunciation? When they do, I love to correct them. I spell my first, middle and last name as many times as I can get away with, regretting only that they arent longer and more difficult to spell and pronounce. I often wonder if there isnt an underground school that teaches these people how to be rude, intrusive and about as welcome in anyones home as a horde of ants at a picnic lunch. I know there are such schools for the fine art of pick-pocketing somewhere in South America. (Actually, Id rather deal with one of them. They might rob me blind, but at least they do it when I am not looking and dont waste any of my time!)
We need to fight back and take control of our phones by making it too expensive for telemarketers to stay in business. Finding ways to be counter-productive and waste their time seems a just tactic. (Fight fire with fire, as the saying goes.) Telemarketers depend on the fact that eventually someone will break down and buy whatever they are selling, even if they have to call a hundred people before that happens. Listen, or better yet, pretend to listen to their pitch. Dont even turn the television or radio down. Keep watching and/or listening to the show, but remember to grunt occasionally. This will alert the telemarketer to your level of interest. If that fails, put them on hold every few minutes and each time you return ask them to repeat their pitch from the very beginning. This may or may not work, but its worth the old college try.
Out of the goodness of my heart, I shall share a secret approach that has never ceased to fail. (I tried it on my ex in-laws, but it works just as well on telemarketers.) Put the phone down or inside a drawer after asking the pest in question to hang on for just a second. (This may be difficult the first time around, but trust me, it gets easier each time you do it.) Then go about your business. The only problems with this approach is that one never has the satisfaction of knowing exactly how much time has been wasted or what calls were missed while the line was engaged. Still, it is all worth it because when one returns to the phone a half-hour later there is never anyone waiting on the line!
Many people dont know there is a federal law that regulates telemarketing activities. Even some telemarketers dont know that they are subject to these provisions which puts us ahead of the game. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 states, among other things, that telemarketers must keep a "do not call list." When and if consumers request that their names be placed on that list, the company is barred from calling them again for a period of 10 years! The law also permits telemarketing calls within the hours of 8AM and 9PM. Only two classes of callers are exempt from the law: public opinion polls and tax exempt charities.
American consumers lose more than forty billion dollars a year to telemarketing fraud. No survey has ever been done, however, to determine exactly how much time the average American family wastes on these people per year. Fraudulent telemarketers may get your phone number from a variety of mundane and nefarious sources. There are always telephone directories and mailing lists, but they are not the most surprising. There are actually "sucker lists" circulated which name consumers who have already lost money to bogus prize promotions. They indicate names, addresses, phone numbers and even how much money each individual may have spent on telemarketing scams. Worse than P.T. Barnums claim about a sucker being born every minute, unscrupulous promoters buy and sell these lists on the assumption that suckers who are once deceived can be deceived again!
Stopping telemarketers is like that old song: "Its All In The Game." Unfortunately, here we speak not of roses and romance. When you get a call, there are two ways to play. If your time is limited, and all you want to do is decrease the number of calls you receive, simply tell them to please put you on the "do not call list." This should stop most of them, but if you want to pursue a legal claim against any company that calls you more than once, you must keep written records of the calls, including the companys name, the time they called and the person you spoke to. If you are called again on behalf of the company, report it immediately to your state attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission
This is as good a time as any to warn you about responding to a foreign lottery. If youre thinking about doing it, dont. Why? Well, it happens to be illegal to play a foreign lottery, whether done through the mail, over the telephone or on the Internet. (I know this is a biggie. Ive done it myself, but I really didnt know.) Buying just one foreign lottery ticket opens the door to many bogus offers for lotteries and "investment" opportunities. Your name will be added to "sucker lists" that fraudulent telemarketers buy and sell. The best approach is to ignore all mail and phone solicitations for foreign lottery promotions. If your receive any, turn it over to your local postmaster.
Be careful about credit card protection offers as well. These con artists are called that for a reason. They are clever and dedicated to the proposition that all money is equal and your money is theirs if only they can get their hands on it. Dont ever buy "loss protection" insurance. It is absolutely worthless. Avoid doing business with callers who claim that you are liable for more than 50 dollars in unauthorized charges on your credit card account. You never are. Also, dont believe them when they tell you that credit card protection prevents computer hackers from accessing your account and that they are from "the security department" and want to activate this special feature on your credit card. Dont do it and dont ever give out personal information such as the number of your bank account, credit card or Social Security card over the phone or online unless you know the company is legitimate and the information is necessary for the transaction.
Dont ever be shy about hanging up unless MGM or Warner Brothers is calling. (I would question that caller at length as well before giving them any information.) Remember that your phone line is no different than the door to your home. You dont have to open it to let people in, and you have the right to ask anyone to leave at any time. If you need advice about a telephone solicitation or want to report a possible scam, call the NFIC hotline at 1-800 876-7060. Id talk to you some more, but my phone is ringing. I know that it is one of them trying to sell me something. I better answer. Ill tell them Im someone else. If that doesnt work, Ill just move. Theyll find me though. They always do.