If the telemarketers start calling, 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.