This is the stuff that inspired me to start this website. The incessant annoying phone
calls all day long. There are many ways to fight these vermin, ranging from a simple speech that lets
them know you're aware of your legal rights, to all-out guerilla warfare... sue the bejeezus out of them!
And now you have the legal weapons. You can register now with the Federal Trade
Commission's Do-Not-Call registry at http://www.donotcall.gov or
by calling 1-888-382-1222. Since September, 2003, telemarketers are required to check the registry
list every three months to determine if your telephone number is on the Do-Not-Call list. If they call
you despite being listed, they are subject to fines up to $11,000 for each violation.
The Do-Not-Call registry has taken hold. I can't remember the last time we
got a telemarketing call. But the time may soon come when the phones start ringing again.
The telemarketing industry is suing the Federal government over the Do-Not-Call registry
on free speech grounds, asserting that singling out commercial speech for regulation while
allowing politicians, charities, and pollsters to thrive, is a violation of their free
speech and equal protection rights. Sadly, they might easily prevail and have their
switchboards and autodialers singing away again. Only time will tell.
If the telemarketers start calling again, there is only one thing I know of
that you can easily do every day to reduce the amount of telemarketing
calls you receive. When you pick up the phone and are greeted by that familiar dead
silence while their auto-dialer routes your call, be patient. When the
poor clod they've hired does finally speak to you, ask who is calling. Ignore the
response. You don't really care. Immediately recite the following: "I'm sorry, but we
don't take tele-marketing calls. Please put us on your Do-Not-Call
List," and then hang up immediately. The phrase "Do-Not-Call
List" lets them know that you are aware of your rights under state
and federal laws and are possibly just waiting to sue them. Legitimate
contacts do not use auto-dialers, so don't be concerned that you are
missing anything important. You cannot be held liable for failure to
answer a telephone call. It is true that many groups are exempt from
the new Federal Do-Not-Call laws - charities, political groups, and
pollsters, for example - but even they may actually stop calling you
if they know you aren't going to speak to them anyway or might be annoyed
enough to never contribute to their cause or candidate. It is not a perfect
defense to telemarketers, but it has been very effective in our household.
Thanks to the Do Not Call Registry Improvement Act of 2007, once you register, your phone number remains on the list permanently and you no longer have to renew. And once your phone number has been registered for 31 days, if you do get a call in violation of the Do Not Call Act, you can file a complaint on the FTC website.
If you have the time and inclination, there are situations
in which you can actually sue companies that make unsolicited calls and receive
compensation. The process is tedious, convoluted, and time-consuming, but it
has been done. Most of the stories you will hear of people that have successfully
sued under state anti-telemarketing laws will have been directed against companies
that have a presence in the home state of the plaintif. You can obtain judgements
against out-of-state companies, but there is seldom any mechanism that will allow
you to collect enough to be worth the time and effort. This is one reason why
telemarketers hated the idea of a Federal law. A judgement in a Federal court
can be enforced across state lines much more easily. Not painlessly, but at
least within the realm of possibility. For more information, see our
Stop SPAM and Telemarketing Links Page. There are websites shown there that will have information on how to keep the proper records you will need to file suit and other details.