12 News Defenders: Dialing up answers - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

12 News Defenders: Dialing up answers

(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

If you have a phone, you know the frustration that comes with unsolicited calls. The 'Do Not Call List' worked for a while, but some telemarketers are no longer following the law.

The 12 News Defenders recently investigated the problem and went in search of other ways to fend off unwanted calls.

It's no secret that telemarketers are some of the most despised people on the planet.

"Sometimes when they call, they get a good cursing' out," one woman told us.

Another woman shared her frustration after receiving calls almost daily.

"I'm even getting calls about diabetic supplies and I'm not diabetic," she said. "I can't get them to stop!"

Adding your number to the federal 'Do Not Call List' helps sometimes, but companies you have done business with, charities and political organizations can still call you.

And then there are the FRAUDULENT telemarketers. They don't pay any attention to the Do Not Call list. Most fraudulent telemarketers are located outside the U.S. Therefore, they do not have to follow U.S. guidelines.

"A lot of them are originating from India, Malaysia, the Philippines," explained Rick Burley.

Burley owns ASK Telemarketing in Montgomery. His company does follow the rules.

Federal Telemarketing Rules & Guidelines

For example, it's actually illegal to make a sales call to a cell phone.

Caller ID spoofing is another no-no. That's when telemarketers use a different number every time they call.

It's also illegal to make sales calls using computers instead of live operators -- known as 'robocalls.'

"The federal government has outlawed robocalls for the sales purchase," Burley said. "So if someone calls to sell you something and tell you to press 1 for a live agent, they are breaking federal law"

Maybe you've gotten this robocall before:

"Hello. This is Rachel at cardholder services... it is urgent that you contact us about lowering your interest rate."

The next time you get a robocall, Burley says you shouldn't press any numbers on your phone. If you do, you will likely just get more calls.

If it's not a robocall and you're talking to a live operator, go ahead and tell them to take your name off their call list. A legitimate telemarketing firm is required to remove your name if you ask.

But not all telemarketers are legitimate.

What else can you do?

Ask your carrier about call blocking or buy a blocking device for your landline. But remember, you must know a number in order to block it.

That's not the case with some cell phone apps. Take Privacy Star with its 'smart block' feature. It takes data from other users and automatically blocks the numbers that are most complained about. (Right now, 'smart block' is only available on Android devices.)

You might also try Trap Call or other similar apps that help you identify anonymous callers. Just search "call blocker" in your app store.

You can also try a website called 'No Mo Robo.' You enter your phone number and the site promises to block known telemarketers free of charge. It has gotten good reviews, but is supported by limited carriers. Company officials say they are in the process of expanding their offerings.

And then there are more tech-savvy solutions, according to the Federal Trade Commission. On its website, the FTC makes this recommendation (click here for video):

"You know those three-note special information tones that signal a non-working number? Some people told us they put this tone at the beginning of their voicemail or answering machine message and it resulted in fewer calls."

Guarding your phone number is another good tip. If you must give out your number, ask the company not to share it. You can also have your number removed from phone number search engines.

Here's how to remove your number from whitepages.com (which also removes your information from phonenumber.com & 411.com).

And if you get an illegal telemarketing call, report it here for investigation to the Federal Trade Commission.

Finally, if you're looking for a simpler solution, just check your caller ID. If the number looks fishy, let it go to voicemail!

Here are some more resources, including web-only video, from the Federal Trade Commission:

More information about the Do Not Call list

Cell Phones and the Do Not Call list

Information about robocalls

Tricks to stop robocalls

More tips to stop unwanted calls


Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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