How to meaningfully complain about unwanted phone calls
It bothers me. A lot. Whenever I get one of those unwanted phone calls where there’s a 5 second empty pause while the robo-caller catches up and puts the telemarketer on the line, I begin to dream up ways to say, “No thank you!” Kindly, but firmly. Unfortunately, when automated, all you can do is hang up, hoping they won’t call again.
Let me put this in balance. Telemarketers can be professional. I usually do patiently listen to a real person. And not a few times I have purchased the services/goods being offered. So I am not against the telemarketer! It’s just that there are so many scams out there that “Unwanted Phone Calls” are like the Unwanted Email (SPAM).
There are some simple steps you can take that will help to minimize such unwanted phone calls – an interruption whether at work or at your favorite restaurant for dinner.
Step One – simply Google the number that called you. I recently received an unwanted phone call from 213-xxx-xxxx. I took the time to plug that number into the Google search bar and came up with the most interesting list of responses I have ever seen. Not just the comments of the people who contributed their experiences, but the helpful suggestions of what to do to avoid such unwanted phone calls. Here are some highlights from the comments of that search link.
Topangajack – agreed with the majority of people who had recorded their experiences at 800notes.com that the unwanted phone call number pretended to be Verizon, but was a marketing scam offering a “free cruise.”
Hapefazus – was sure it was a Scam call. Why? Because he has instructed Verizon to always text – they never call his land line. So he blocks first and then asks questions. “I check numbers I do not know.”
DoNotCall – Interestingly, someone purporting to be from the DoNotCall.gov site told Topangajack to “Report them.” Implying, no mercy to unwanted phone calls!
Bolt replies to DoNotCall.gov
“Like most things run by government, donotcall.gov is worthless.. It is a waste of time. But if it makes you feel better…
Tamianth replies to Bolt
- donotcall.gov is not a call blocker and it isn’t going to stop criminals or foreign countries from calling. Consider getting a call blocking device or phone.. You can Google them and many are around $40.00 or so. [I did Google and found one at the top of the result from Amazon for $45 for a land line.]
- If it’s a cell phone, some already have call blocking, [Verizon has call-blocking for up to 5 numbers, which can be updated regularly for a rolling list]
- if not [not from provider], there are free apps on the web that will work for some. You can Google this. [Mr. Number with 10 million+ downloads seems to be one of the more popular and with a rating of 4.3 effective. Another is Call Control-Call Blocker. As I did the due diligence of searching myself, I came across a good idea to pass on. Do your Google search with this format – “Top free call blockers for ****” Where **** is the kind of phone you have, Android, Samsung, iPhone etc The link rates Mr. Number at third with Call Blocker as #1]
Report your callers here, not just to the DNC alone:[Tamianth went above and beyond, giving three links to report those unwanted phone calls.]
- FTC Complaint Assistant – Identity theft, Scams, SPAM, and Mobile Devices or Telephones, among others complaint sources are listed on this helpful .gov site.
- Consumer Help Center – this one is sponsored by the FCC – Federal Communication Commission and has a lot of good information and helpful range of categories.
- Do Not Call Registry – you can not only register to not receive marketing calls, honored by most honest corporations, but you can also go a step further and register a complaint with a specific caller.
For text messages:
- Forwarding any text message spam you get to the short code 7726,” which spells “spam” on most phones, to alert your network operator to the abuse.
- ATT won’t accept 7726 But they will accept BLOCK and return a message that the web site is blocked.
Do Not Call Protection is a company that helps legitimate telemarketers comply with Do Not Call laws providing, among other services, scrubbed lists.
FCC Complaint form in pdf format is helpful.
FCC recent list of most popular articles:
- Spam: Unwanted Email and Text Messages
- How the FCC Handles Your Complaint
- Obscene, Indecent and Profane Broadcasts
- Unwanted Telemarketing Calls and the Do-Not-Call List
- Issues Outside the Jurisdiction of the FCC
- Wireless Phones and the National Do-Not-Call List
- Caller ID and Spoofing
- Bundled Services and Billing
- Consumer Complaint Charts and Data Overview
Enforcement:[This extensive list of links provided by Tamianth says that unwanted phone calls are a big issue, which requires a big effort to control. The responsible people are working on it. But controlling unwanted phone calls is evidently a lot more complex than the individual consumer realizes.]
- http://800notes.com/forum/ta-c17c24b9614a487/ … ttery-scam-case
- http://800notes.com/forum/ta-c116acd736280bb/ … h-telemarketing
- http://800notes.com/forum/ta-bfcd4eb5e5bf6d6/ … y-ftc-and-il-ag
- http://800notes.com/forum/ta-bf7e49d2ddb0453/ … e-dnc-violation
- http://consumerist.com/2015/04/08/robocalling … ding-consumers/
anti-spam replies to Tamianth
Use Google Voice.
[Wikipedia describes Google Voice “as a voicemail/phone management service,” while Google Voice says, “Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones — a phone number that is tied to you, not to a device or a location. Use Google Voice to simplify the way you use phones, make using voicemail as easy as email, customize your callers’ experience, and more. Neither of these indicate specifically an ability to block unwanted phone calls. However, the implication of this comment was that by controlling the calls you can control who you talk to. Note next comment.]
George P replies to anti-spam
I call forward all my landline calls to my google voice number so I can choose to block certain calls, then next time a blocked caller calls, they get the message “Number no longer in Service”!
Wayne replies to Tamianth
I recently purchased and installed the Sentry 2 call screener/blocker for my landline.
- Fantastic! After using the conventional “blacklist” blocker device for years, I now feel I have fully retaken control of my private land-line phone, have peace and quiet and have finally defeated those dirt-bag scammers and telemarketers!
- The problem with the conventional call blockers is that the scum callers keep changing their fake caller ID numbers so they can get around the blacklist blockers. The Sentry 2 device is another level of protection.
- Sentry 2 can be found on Amazon – check it out.
Tamianth replies to Wayne
It’s a very good possibility I may get a second set up such as this to place on my other phone. Have good luck so far with just a blacklist, but I foresee adding since sometimes the other phone rings first.
You’re not the only person who has spoken highly of the Sentry 2
An amazing amount of information is available to those interested in controlling unwanted phone calls. So much, that a summary is in order.
- Call blockers are available for land lines. One that adds another level of protection while managing incoming calls to various devices is Sentry-2
- Call Blocker and Mr Number are two free apps for Smart Phones.
- You can search to find the right app for your particular phone/carrier.
- While DoNotCall appears to be ineffective in controlling unwanted phone calls, it’s purpose is to identify numbers to avoid calling for professional telemarketers, not to prohibit or stop the Scammers.
- There are a plethora of sites and tools which the FTC and FCC do provide that are very helpful in controlling unwanted phone calls.
- The issue of unwanted phone calls is big and managing it is not easy. The presence online of many enforcement links show that the effort is being made to clean up and stop unwanted phone calls.
The temptation is to see how overwhelming controlling unwanted phone calls is and take the attitude of…
Hater of Telemarketers – I gave up on reporting numbers too … I was doing it a couple times a week. .. put myself on do not call list every month … Unfortunately it’s useless…
Another attitude to take to make a difference is that of Tamianth who took a lot of time and effort to pass on some really excellent information on controlling unwanted phone calls. Usable information that you too could implement and pass on!