Unwanted calls are a major source of aggravation for many people. Whether it be a Politician’s autodialer or the nuisance telephone calls generated by someone working a telemarketing list, these calls constitute an invasion of privacy at the least and a threat for potential fraud at the worst. The “do not call list” known as the National Do Not Call Registry is typical of consumer laws passed since 1980. The law, while based on good intentions, is full of exemptions created by industry lobbyists and lacks any real enforcement.
From the “National Do Not Call Registry” website:
Even if your number is registered, charities, political organizations, and telephone surveyors may continue to call you. Companies with which you do business may also continue to call, unless you have asked them to stop calling you. If you have asked them to stop calling, please keep a record of the date you made the request and include that information in the comment section of any complaint you submit against that company
As you can see, it is up to you to prove any wrongdoing when it comes to stopping nuisance telephone calls.
Stop Nuisance Phone Calls
Those free to engage in unlimited telephone spam include politicians, non-profit or charitable organizations, and here is the one that renders the list completely worthless, anyone with an “existing business relationship”. Referred to in the FCC Consumer Facts on Unwanted Telephone Marketing Calls web page as an EBR, this existing business relationship gives a business unlimited access to your phone for marketing purposes until the time that you specifically request contact be stopped. To make clear the concept of EBR, buying gasoline gives the station the right to call you with the exciting news of fresh coffee and donuts each and every morning until you request the calls stop, provided you have been on the do not call registry for at least 30 days. Clearly a case of a consumer law doing more harm than benefit to the consumer. Please enjoy another benefit of having a Congress that works on commission.
The robodialer or autodialer is a favored tool of our politicians. Consider this to be amalgamation of a telephone and a computer to create the most obnoxious device ever known to mankind. Politicians tend to spend at least 50% of their time running for election, getting re-elected, or campaigning for cronies running for election. The rest of their time is spent creating sweetheart deals for their biggest money contributors. We can’t expect them to actually talk to mere mortal voters. Thankfully they can record a few morsels from their vast trove of knowledge and share it with us via the recorded message and the autodialer. I call block everyone of these after the first call.
Spoof Caller Id
Admittedly, the caller id is the best feature to come from the phone company since the touch tone phone replaced the rotary dial. Those making their living from nuisance telephone calls hate caller id. Each month some 12,000 plus individuals use Google to search for ways to spoof caller id for free. In other words, these scammers are looking for a way to fool you caller id into telling you the incoming call is from someone other than the actual caller. It is currently against the law to spoof a caller ID for deceptive purposes. Corporations may show a single point number, such as a main switchboard number, rather than the actual number of each extension. State and local governments and law enforcement may show whatever caller id they deem appropriate. Some of the techniques I have observed with regard to spoofing caller id:
- Leave off the area code from the number
- Include a caller name but no number
- No number – text “out of area” only info for caller id
- Any random text string with a number
To be sure, this list is not exhaustive of the techniques employed by telephone spammer parasites. With the recession, charitable giving has dropped off considerably. Not an expected side effect of 15 million jobless in the country. Sadly, this has given rise to more unscrupulous solicitors in the area of charitable giving. The amount of unethical charitable fundraising seems to have risen in direct proportion to the millions of unemployed Americans. Some soliciting for charitable contributions have resorted to high pressure sales techniques from the direct selling hey-dey of the 1960’s. Be very wary of people claiming to solicit for charity.
Telemarketers and Criminal Activity
A boiler room is a slang phrase for a call center engaged in criminal activity. The charitable exemption on the do not call registry gives the boiler room operator a license to steal. As a result, telemarketing solicitations for charity are on the rise. Not everyone that claims to represent a charity is on the up and up. This hurts the legitimate operators while it lines the scammer’s pockets with your money.
Some telephone criminals are already behind bars but that does not stop them from committing more crime if they can obtain a cell phone, considered contraband at most, if not all penal institutions. Do you really have any idea if the telemarketer on the other end of the line is a legitimate business person or an inmate looking to scam you? No,not really.
The telephone is one of the easiest, least secure places for a criminal to enter your home. Web sites have countermeasures in place to protect e commerce and identify legitimate sites. Still we have people that fall prey to email scams and viruses because they fail to keep things updated. Your phone has only the trust you place in the unknown person on the other end of the line. Phone calls using VOIP technology (voice over Internet Protocol) allow the caller to be anywhere in the world. Can you afford to take the chance that everyone with a phone offer is an honest good guy? I believe the answer is no. That day has passed. Protect yourself and your family from nuisance telephone calls and possible criminal activity.
Block Incoming Calls
It is obvious. To gain any ground on the corporate, political, non-profits, and scammers that consider your telephone to be their personal invitation into your home and bank account, you are going to have to take matters into your own hands. The telcos offer call blocking to some extent. My particular service, ATT allow me to block 6 numbers. Hardly enough, my current block list has 25 numbers. I’ve had reasonable success with purchasing a Panasonic phone system that allows me to block up to 30 numbers. If an inbound call matches the block list, the phone rings one time, the caller id displays “Caller Blocked” and the caller is given a busy signal. Telemarketers try work around call block by using caller id spoofs despite their illegality. There simply is not much incentive to obey the law when you will never be caught or charged with a crime and the profit motive exceeds the risk.
Stop Nuisance Phone Calls with a Call Blocking Phone Using Caller ID
Protect your phone number
Google Voice allows you to block calls on a case by case basis. Once a caller is blocked, they receive a “no longer a working number”message. I recommend using this service. Circulate the Google voice number to any one you do business with and for any web based forms requiring a phone number. This would include utilities, any and all consumer credit accounts, banks, and election boards. Many businesses have started requesting cell phone numbers. I simply refuse to provide one. A telephone is a paid utility service. No corporation has the right to invade your privacy simply based on the fact that you choose to subscribe to a voluntary service. You should be free from solicitation and political speech because it is your right, not because self serving politicians put their own financial interest above the public good.