Ever think you might just snap if there’s even one more spam call from someone trying to sell you something? Make sure your number is listed with the National Do Not Call Registry!
If you’re tired of hanging up with an unsatisfyingly quiet button push (we all miss being able to slam down the receiver like we did in the old days) or yelling something at the pushy sales guy before disconnecting, we hear you.
Remember the landline days, though?
It could be worse, right? We Gen Xers are old enough to remember the days before smartphones — and many of us even remember life before caller ID and answering machines.
The only way to know who was calling back in the 70s and early 80s was to actually answer the phone, which usually meant a lot of family dinnertime interrupted by telemarketers (and later robocalls).
How to reduce calls from telemarketers and bots
Telemarketers, robocalls and scammers are some of the most annoying things known to humankind — and even with all the refinements technology companies have made to filter what gets through on our smartphones, spam calls sometimes still hit their mark.
Here are some additional steps you can take to get on various do not call lists — and stem the problem right at the source. (Note: Remember to sign up all the phone numbers in your family!)
Signing up with the national do not call list — and more
1. Contact The National Do Not Call Registry: Started in June 2003, the Federal Trade Commission’s DNCR allows you to register your phone number with them. In turn, telemarketers must check the list a minimum of every 90 days. Any number on the list must be removed from their call list, or they can face fines.
You can easily register either by calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone you wish to register, or by going to donotcall.gov and registering there. (It even works with cell phones.)
In their report to congress in January 2022, the FTC sid that more than 244 million people have placed their telephone numbers on the Registry in 2020 and 2021.
They also stated that they received more than five million Do Not Call complaints in 2021, with people overwhelmingly reporting that those violations came via robocalls, as opposed to live telemarketers.
2. If you’re in Pennsylvania or Wyoming, you can sign up with the Telephone Preference Service from the Association of National Advertisers (formerly the Direct Marketing Association) at dmachoice.org.
For a couple of bucks, anyone can use DMA’s other helpful tools:
— Email Preference Service (reduce your unsolicited commercial email);
— Deceased Do Not Contact list (for name removal of deceased individuals’ names); and
— Do Not Contact list for Caregivers (for caregivers to register name removal on behalf of those individuals for whom they care)
3. Hate those robocalls? NoMoRobo.com offers low-cost pay-per-month services that promise real-time protection to stop both Android and iPhones from nearly 5 million robocallers.
Still, some calls will slip through
Note, however, that some exclusions apply. There are some groups that are exempt from the Do Not Call Registry, so this will not block all unsolicited calls, but it will certainly cut down on them.
You can still expect to hear from:
— Charities, people conducting surveys, political organizations.
— Calls from companies with which you have an existing business relationship. (A company may call you for up to 18 months after you buy something, or for three months after you inquire about something or submit an application.)
Even after signing up for these two lists, you may still continue to get unsolicited calls here and there. To minimize your exposure, ask the telemarketer to put you on the company’s internal do-not-call list.
If it is an automated call, listen to the message to obtain the company’s address or phone number, then contact them directly and ask to be placed on the internal do-not-call list.
It’s just politics
Also worth mentioning — those political robocalls you start getting around October of every year? Those are exempt from the FTC DNCR. But that’s okay, because you can do something about those, too:
NoMoRobo (formerly StopPoliticalCalls.org) is a non-profit, non-partisan voter advocacy organization that will securely collect your contact information, then send it to all political parties, candidates, political action committees, and other organizations that make political robocalls and ensure that they are told you no longer wish to receive those calls. Click the link for more information and to register.
Keep in mind all of these solutions will take about three months fully take effect, but once they do, you should have less frustration when you accidentally answer a call from and unknown number.