Would you buy DSL service from a company that either doesn’t care about Do Not Call lists or doesn’t know how they work? A man in Missouri was harassed to the point where he considered calling the police, because no matter what he did, AT&T wouldn’t stop calling. Every time he tried contacting AT&T to get it to stop, he ended up in automated phone systems with recorded messages, busy signals, and disconnections—but never a live person. Only after he wrote to a local consumer advocacy columnist did AT&T pay attention and turn off the telemarketing fire hose. AT&T didn’t, however, explain why they were targeting this person, or whether anyone else is facing the same barrage of calls.
Remember to sign up with the National Do Not Call Registry if you haven’t already. They’ll block up to three phone numbers for you, including cellular numbers. But don’t expect the Do Not Call registry to catch all telephone spam:
Because of limitations in the jurisdiction of the FTC and FCC, calls from or on behalf of political organizations, charities, and telephone surveyors would still be permitted, as would calls from companies with which you have an existing business relationship, or those to whom you’ve provided express agreement in writing to receive their calls.
You should also be aware that there are two easy ways for companies to get around the registry:
- If you buy something from a company, they can contact you for 18 months after the transaction unless you explicitly tell them not to—and if you tell them not to, they have to comply or face a fine of up to $11,000.
- If you simply make an inquiry or submit an application to a company, they can contact you for 3 months after the initial contact (again, unless you explicitly tell them not to).
So what happens if you’ve told a company not to call and they do anyway? If you’ve been on the Do Not Call registry for at least 31 days, visit their website to file a complaint. If you’re not in the registry but you asked the company not to call you and they did anyway, check out the FTC Complaint Assistant, which will ask you a series of questions and eventually help you submit a telemarketing-related complaint.