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Disconnecting Telemarketers 287

Anonymous Scientist at UMass sent in a story about opt-out telemarketing laws, and several people submitted this story about a spam bill in the Senate. New York's telemarketing law does work - since we put our number on the list, we've gotten a couple of calls from charities (not covered by the law) and a couple of calls from Time-Warner Cable, asking us to sign up for cable. Time-Warner's calls would be banned, except that we have a pre-existing business relationship with them - you see, we already have cable. Update: 05/18 15:30 GMT by M : Oh, and if you live in New York:
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Disconnecting Telemarketers

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  • What about thoe bogus "firemen" that call up asking for donations?
    • Re:Scams (Score:5, Funny)

      by shaldannon ( 752 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @11:26AM (#3542519) Homepage
      Well...once when I was a missionary in California City, I got a call from someone alledging to be from the Bakersfield FOP. He asked if I would be interested in giving them money. I replied with "I'm a missionary, so I don't have a whole lot of money...but if you're interested, I could arrange to have some missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [] some share a message about Jesus Christ." He hung up pretty quickly...
    • Re:Scams (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Surak ( 18578 )
      What about thoe bogus "firemen" that call up asking for donations?

      That's a very good point. I used to work a company that did that. (Hey! Stop looking at me like that! It was legitimate IT work! :)

      Non-profit organizations like the International Association of Firefighters, the Police Officer's Assocation of really do exist. They often do not do their own telemarketing, and instead hire outside companies to do it.

      The company I worked for published free newspapers and magazines for the organization in exchange for the organization allowing them to solicit 'advertising' and other 'donations' from companies. The non-profits get like 1% or something ridiculous like that.

      I would imagine since the agreement between the telemarketer and the non-profit is legally binding and the non-profit did hire the telemarketer, then it would not be banned, at least no under the New York law mentioned in the article.
  • I've heard commercials on TV lately advertising products that you can put between the jack and the phone that actually block telemarketers. Does anyone have any experience with these devices? DO they work? Which is the best one to get?
    • Our local news station did a story on those. They didn't work worth crap.
    • i just saw these at compusa like 10 mins ago, i guess theyre (somewhat) legit
    • ISTR hearing about these before; IIRC they sent a short signal to the caller that the line was engaged or was invalid. This was short enough that legit users wouldn't notice it, but the telemarketers' call machines would and mark the number invalid.

      I have no idea how reliable they are or what their effect on legit callers is, but another post seems to think they weren't much good. *shrug*

    • I think eventually the predictive dialers will be programmed to avoid them. I did download the SIT tone wav file to a PDA, assigned it to a button and played it into the phone for out of area/unknown caller calls. It did seem effective. Didn't have to pay Verizon for the call blocking service, etc.
    • Telezapper (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrsam ( 12205 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @12:31PM (#3542741) Homepage
      I've heard commercials on TV lately advertising products that you can put between the jack and the phone that actually block telemarketers. Does anyone have any experience with these devices? DO they work? Which is the best one to get?

      There are several brand names these gizmos are sold under, the most common one is called a "Telezapper". The way they work is that every time you pick up the phone the device sends out that three-note high-pitched tone you sometimes hear when you misdial and reach an invalid number, or you get an "all circuits are busy" recording.

      It's called a SIT tone - "Special Information Tone" - and is used by the phone company to indicate that the dialed number cannot be reached for some reason. It's actually not used in most places since that kind of information is now transmitted out-of-band with the voice call, but is used for compatibility reasons in case the call originates from some ancient phone switch in Antarctica which does not receive out-of-band signalling, and listens to the voice path to figure out what happened to the phone call.

      The idea behind the telezapper is that many telemarketing calls are robo-dialed, and the telemarketer is put on the line only after you pick up the phone and answer (which is why many times you get a short delay after you say hello, before some sleazebag starts yammering into your ear trying to peddle some junk). If the telemarketers' dialer detects that the call didn't go through, it never even goes to a human. The idea is that if the robodialer hears a SIT it will assume that the phone number is invalid, and the phone number will be automatically removed from the telemarketer's phone list.

      In any case, that's how it's supposed to work in theory. I wouldn't know, since I'm in NY and I don't get phonespam no mo'. :-) However I do know this: if you use that device you may experience occasional problems receiving calls from pay-phones. Many privately-owned payphones (you know, mostly the weird looking ones owned by some private phone operator that charges $5 per minute) are not properly provisioned to process out-of-band call signaling, and the circuitry in the payphone listens to the voice line in order to figure out what happened to the dialed call (busy, ringing, no answer, human speech, etc...) If the payphone hears a SIT it will disconnect the line even though the call will actually go through.
    • NO! It will not work.

      I worked for years in an office which sold ********** over the phone. Everytime there is something new the company which provides the "robo-dial" equipment sends you another hack.

      Our local telco (Cincinnati Bell) introduced the system which makes you enter your phone number so the person you are calling can see who it is. This system was supposed to fool robo-dialers, but they also sold us the hack. After a day of slow calls Tele-Direct (robo-dail-r-us) uploaded a hack from their Arizona office over the modem and we were back to full business.

      About your "Tele-zapper". A local TV station tested these systems (partially owned by the company I did telemarketing for...) and none worked.

      I've been told by people that a hack has already been put into the system so that it just ignores the tone. Not suprising because we had many options on the computer system (the end user computers) to delete numbers because they were disconnected or changed.
  • I hate telemarketers they call out the time, but I never answer because of my caller id. Well, I experienced something new a few weeks ago. Phone spam. Having enough experience with spam I didn't fall for it, but my parents did. My caller ID read Moneyclaims or something like that. Well, I knew it was a telemarketer. My dad did not. So he calls them and gets a recording saying go to a website. So he tells me go to the site so he can get his money that someone owes. I'm like, sure... So I go to the site and what do I see, two pairs of large breast staring at me. My parents were shocked, but I laughed out in glee. I said I told you so and they stopped bothering me.
  • Simple solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @11:24AM (#3542509)
    It's simple. Get rid of the land line. Cell phones are cheaper and easier. Telemarketers don't have cell phone numbers. Of course, if you use your land line for dial-up like I do, we just removed all of our telephones in the house. No telemarketers. Simple.
    • Not quite.. my cell gets telemarketers. There are a lot of them that just cold dial numbers.

      I have never given out my cell # on a web form or anything.
    • by glitch! ( 57276 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @12:32PM (#3542746)
      Get rid of the land line. Cell phones are cheaper and easier. Telemarketers don't have cell phone numbers.

      That's an excellent point. I carry my cell phone everywhere, and everyone I know has the number. (I guess "they" can track me, now...) Recently I have stopped answering my home phone, and let my 2-year old answer it instead. She loves it! "Hewwwwooo?" babble babble babble. I figure that if she is still talking after a minute or so, it is someone in the family, and I can take over. Otherwise, who cares? :-)
    • Use cell phones? This doesn't necessarily work. I got a message on my mobile phone's voice mail from It lasted about a minute and used up one of my 300 monthly minutes.

      I'm thinking about sending a bill to palm for the airtime, not to mention turning them in, since this is illegal. I will also never buy anything from them since they have effectively stolen from me.
  • by DigiBoi ( 139261 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @11:28AM (#3542522) Homepage
    they try to sell me siding, roofing, windows, remodeling, lawn care, etc. and i live in an apartment.

    id hate to see what they try to sell you if you own a home.
  • by Serk ( 17156 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @11:38AM (#3542558) Homepage
    And if you live in Texas -

    And for what it's worth, it works, my spam-calls have gone to nearly zero (I still get charity calls)... The other thing to cut way down on spam-calls is this magic phrase - 'Please put me on your do not call list. Thank you.'...

    • I have a magical way of dealing with telephone spammers - I permanently have the ringer turned up. Anyone genuine will leave a message but the telemarketers don't. Trouble is people who hae the wrong number also leave a message but it's a pretty good system nontheless.
      • That is a great way of dealing with people who utilize a SYNCHRONOUS method of communication when all they really needed was an ASYNCHRONOUS method.

        So what do you do in an emergency? AOL Instant Message?
    • And if you live in florida, then a domain squatter just (last night) sat on the respective domains for florida.

      There should be a law against that.
  • Reusing numbers (Score:5, Informative)

    by popeydotcom ( 114724 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @11:38AM (#3542560) Homepage
    We recently moved house and connected to NTL [] for telephone and cable modem. They gave us a number and I asked for it to be ex-directory (so it doesn't show up in public directories and thus should reduce the chances we get spam calls). Within a week or two we were getting fax calls from someone at all hours of the day and night. Not nice for Clare when I'm away from home, waking her up in the middle of the night (we don't have a fax machine). Problem is they always seemed to block their number, so dialling 1472 to get the CLI number didn't work. However *once* it did. We got the number and searched for it on the internet. I found out the company name and got their website from google. I then figured out their email naming convention and send an email to every employee in the company telling them to stop.

    They stopped.

    The problem was that our number was reused. It had been someone elses fax number 6 months ago. The phone company said they could change our number if we wanted, but we'd just get another recycled number.

    The dimwit company with the fax machine hadn't purged their marketing database at all.

    In the UK we have an opt-out system also, called the 'Telephone Preference Service'. There's also an associated organisation called the 'Mail Preference Service' to reduce spam through the letter box. Since we registered we haven't had any spam calls and little or no mail either.
    • Exact same thing happened to be here in California, Faxes all hours of the day and night, bought a fax machine to collect and make them stop. In 4 months I've slowed it down but a few still get through. They need to change the laws, if they fax you they have to have the opt-out info at the bottom. But if you don't have a fax machine there is no way to get it. Need to make it that if the machine notices no fax responce 3 times or something it removes you. Or they have to use caller ID and answer it.

      Sorry if my spelling/grammer isn't perfect, on my way out the door.
    • by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <> on Saturday May 18, 2002 @02:08PM (#3543112) Homepage Journal
      You must understand that phone numbers on some systems are just sequentially dialed - yes, we used war dialing.

      But the first rule to cold call dialing is to NEVER (yes, bold and italics are necessary) use the information provided by whomever the list is bought from - even the phone company.

      While I know that your problem was with a company which didn't take care of their lists (lead-lists should be taken care of very carefully), the phone company could also help by letting the company know who has changed their numbers or moved.

      Lead lists are a whole 'nother thing. If you have a list of leads or subscribers, etc, then you absolutely need to take care of those lists.

      If you don't, there is your sales force.
  • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <> on Saturday May 18, 2002 @11:38AM (#3542562) Journal
    We form vigilante groups of 10 or so, for every major city in the country. We arm them with flechette round shotguns, incendiary grenades and train them for a few weeks. We have the various legislatures authorize law enforcement to investigate spamming, and inform the vigilantes of any known telemarketer lair.

    We send in the troops.

    Either that, or we pull a Sigourney Weaver... "We go back to the mothership, and nuke them from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
  • I've heard that a number of other states have opt-out lists. Where can I find a good list of how to get on the list for each state?

    I know that you can send a letter to the Direct Marketing Association to get on their do-not-call list, which applies to their members (i.e., the more reputable telemarketing companies).
    • Texas's is at I don't know about other states.
    • The web site is to opt out. The law doesn't go into effect until June 1st, but they've already got more people on the opt-out list in a few weeks than they had on the voluntary list in a couple of years.

      As seems typical, it doesn't ban charitable institutions, companies with "established business relationships", or (of course) political campaigns. But it does also cover fax lines.
    • Here []

      I don't live in KY (thank god) but there has been some good reports so far.
  • ...on Non Sequitur [] (highly recommended web cartoon, BTW!)
  • by Tarquin Sidebottom ( 239733 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @11:45AM (#3542576) Journal
    The How Long Will They Wait Test
    If telemarketers are prepared to waste your time you should waste theirs. When they call, say you're interested but just a second and lay the phone down. Return a few minutes later and either hang up the phone or laugh at them if they're still on the phone.

    The Parrot Approach
    Do the old, copy them approach. Once you know it telemarkers, simply repeat them word for word. The conversation will get nowhere slowly and it will put them in the unusual position of having to be the one to terminate the call.

    I'm Interested But I'm A Complete Idiot Approach
    This involves asking them as many question, preferibly including some rather idiotic questions. Keep this going for as long as you can without ever agreeing to anything or giving them any information. Given that they are generating sales they will happiliy carry on their sales pitch.

    The "I'm On Watch Out Jeremy Beadles About, aren't I" Approach
    This involves refusing to believe that they are trying to sell something but its really a prank call by a TV show.

    The Swithcback Manouver
    "I'm afraid not, but while you're on the phone would you like to be some double glazing?" Confuse them switching roles, be "agresive" and make them feel guilty for not taking you up on your sales offer.

    Any more suggestions?
    • Any more suggestions?

      Yes. Say "I'm not interested" and hang up.

      People who work for telemarketers work on commission. When you stall, "parrot," or anything else, you're not wasting the company's time, but the person's time -- and, consequently, their paychecks. The longer you keep them on the line, the less opportunity they have to close a sale with someone else.

      Look, I'm not trying to elicit sympathy for the telemarketing companies. I hate the intrusions as much as you do. But the callers themselves are not evil people; they are simply looking for a regular job like the rest of us []. When you stall the call to "get them," you're not getting the right people.
      • by Tarquin Sidebottom ( 239733 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @12:32PM (#3542748) Journal
        'If you're part of the solution, you're part of the problem.' as the say goes. Maybe they do need a job, but they're still cold-calling and so they are not exactly innocent parties. If they're innocent, then what about the manager that instigates the marketing campaign? After all, they're just trying to do their regular job like the rest of us. Can we blame the company, after all, it's just trying to make a profit from it's time like the rest of do. Where exactly do you draw the line? Personally I do so at anyone who is willingly involved.

        Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be a heartless bastard, I'd rather just waste the time of those at the top of the chain but thats not always possible.

        Say for example that all cold-calling had to be opt-in. So few people would opt in that there'd be hardly any market for it. Consequently, the wouldn't be a great number of jobs in it. And that same person wouldn't even have a job to receive a paycheck for. At the end of the day, the two are intertwined - you can't hurt the idea of telemarketing without also hurting the person's paycheck.

        So until the day that goverments decide to make it opt-in, the best way to hurt the idea of cold-calling is to make the job such a poor earner that nobody will do it.
      • Nobody forces them to work for a telemarketer and even if sheer hunger and desperation were to drive people to get on the phone for some sleazy telemarketing scam, that still makes stealing other people's time not right. I will call you, don't call me.
      • Very true. I always get a little annoyed reading stories like this, when they turn to harrasing the telemarketers. It's not like anyone sets out in life with the goal of telemarketing. Yes, I find it annoying getting telemarketing calls. But I imagine as agrivating as it is for me to get a call, every moment of their lives at work, every day, over and over again has to be far far worse. If somone can't have a little compassion for people in this kind of bad situation I think getting bugged by telemarketers is a pretty just payback.
        • by Kintanon ( 65528 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @02:40PM (#3543234) Homepage Journal
          As a former telemarketer I can tell you that the highlight of my night was usually when someone did something like the above poster described. Anything witty, funny, or interesting was a great break from the normal routine of calls. And we get paid pretty reasonably in addition to our comission. So don't feel about about making our night more interesting.

          P.S. My favorite phone call is still the one where I called up and asked for some girl, and the guy who answered the phone responds with, 'She's busy sucking my dick right now.'
      • I used to be polite, but then they would try to argue with me, or worse, call me back again.

        After some nights when I got 4-6 phone calls, all from telemarketers, after a 12 hour shift at work I just decided to get as rude as possible.

        They waste my time so who cares if I waste their time?

        A drug pusher is just "doing his job", so is an AIDS-infected prostitute...
    • I like to do one of two things:

      1) Ask them when they are going to get a job that they can be proud of. That usually gets them flustered.

      2) Do a Seinfeld, and ask to recall them at their home when they don't like to be bothered.
    • Tom Mabe [] has one of the most innovative methods for getting rid of Telemarkers.
      He not only pranked them (pretending to a carpet cleaner that he needed a lot of blood out of a carpet, money paid in cash and to keep his mouth shut, telling people that he was interested in cheap international rates but that he did not own a phone and the best one begging a telemarketer to bring him over some beer cause this braclet on his ankel wouldn't let him out of the house until next month) he also made the whole record of them into a cd and made money out of them.
    • When I worked in telemarketing I loved this:

      ME: "This is *** from the *******, how are you doing today?"

      THEM: "Fine ***"

      ME: "The reason for my calling is that we are running a great special on [sales pitch, price etc] - do you think you would be interested?"

      THEM: "Sorry ***, I don't think I am"

      ME: "Ok, is there any particular reason?" (Three No's! We had to get three no's)

      THEM: "No, no reason... but can I ask you a question?"

      ME: "Sure"

      THEM: "When you die will you be accepted into the kingdom of heaven?"

      And the Jehovah's Witness bit comes about. Only one thing worse than a over-the-phone sales man... a Christian selling his wares.
    • If you want to waste their time without wasting your own time, just start out the call nicely to get them started on the "pitch" and set the phone down. After a few minutes they realize that nobody is listening and they give up. Although I have to say that the parrot approach sounds pretty funny.
  • Stealing? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 18, 2002 @11:51AM (#3542591)
    Isn't that stealing from the telemarketers though? By not letting them call you or avoiding their cold calls, you're essentially stealing their revenue. This is no better than not watching commercials on TV. These people have to make money you know. Quit being so blind and greedy and do what I do, sign up and get as many calls as possible! I LOVE HELPING!
  • ... is that I'm expected to pay money to put my number on a list in order to prevent people from using the phone line that I'M paying for without MY permission.

    State-wide or nation-wide no-call lists? Sure. But put the financial burden on the telemarketers or the Baby Bells (often one and the same anyway).
  • by bleeeeck ( 190906 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @11:53AM (#3542603)
    Here [] is Missouri's no call list sign up web site.
    • I've had very few calls. The ones I still get are from Charities such as the Missouri Highway Patrol wanting me to donate money to them... (Someone explain that to me? I pay them to get a sticker in hopes of a higher probability of getting out of tickets. I would invest but I don't put stickers on my cars.)

      I did have one telemarketer call me and luckily I had the No Call list rules right next to me. I collected the correct information and submitted it to the Attorney General and he got busted!

      The biggest problem I've been having is junk faxes. I probably only get one a month, but they are annoying as heck! They call at 2-4am and keep calling until they get a fax machine to pick up.

      Then they're virtually untraceable. You call the 800 numbers on them and it goes to a call center with a bunch of phone monkies that claim to know nothing.
  • Ditch the land line and use cellular exclusively. You get the added advantages of not having to pay to put your number on a no-call list as well as giving the Baby Bells the shaft (unless you're dumb enough to use one as your cellular provider, in which case you better hold on to the land line to dial into AOL).
    • Ditch the land line and use cellular exclusively."

      Two words: SMS SPAM

      Once you have a mobile phone, you get the same computer-generated broadcast spam as your regular email account, except with no filters, not as much space to store it, and it beeps at you each time you get something.

      Vodafone used to send broadcast emails all the time. Kind'a backfired on them when I stopped using a mobile phone at all because of it.
      • My Sprint PCS e-mail account has yet to get spam, and I've had it since December last year. And even if I did, I believe I have the option of disabling SMS notifications when I receive e-mail.

        Oh, and my phone doesn't beep when I get SMS. It vibrates. :)

        If it makes you feel any better, you can probably use your phone in more countries than I can mine. So you can get multi-lingual spam! :)

  • by benb ( 100570 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @11:57AM (#3542614) Homepage Journal
    In Germany, telemarketing is forbidden. A company may only call you, if you have an existing business relationship with them. (And you can terminate that relationsship and demand that they delete data about you.) I.e. opt-in, not opt-out. That's IMO the only sane way.

    It works - I don't remember *ever* being called by telemarketers. And that although I am listed in the phone book.

    BTW: In Germany, all my data belongs to me, too.
    BTW2: It does not work for faxes. I made the error to enlist my number in the fax phone book and get spammed by fax about once or twice a week.

    Some of what I said might be wrong.
    • You should really explain this to Ruhr-Nachrichten, who call me about every 6 months (maybe more often, I'm rarely at home) despite the fact that

      a) I've never bought a copy of their newspaper
      b) As an English person for whom reading German is a chore, not enjoyment, I've no desire to buy a copy of their newspaper
      c) I have no other prior business relationship with them.

      Granted, they're the only people who've ever called, but it's at least one example of German telemarketing laws not working.
  • We use a $5 a month service from Bellsouth called "Privacy Director." If the number would show up as "Out of Area" or "blocked" (or anything similar) on caller ID, the phone doesn't even ring. The caller gets a message telling them that Privacy Director is in effect, and if they are a real person with non-commercial business, they should say they their name. Then, and only then, the phone will ring, and we'll hear a recording of the name, at which point we can choose to put the call through, put them to voicemail, or reject them with an anti-telemarketing message.

    The nice thing about this is that since most telemarketers use computerized systems to dial, few ever make it to the point of leaving their name. And fewer still have the chutzpah to do so. And (as an added bonus), bill collectors also use "out of area" frequently, so many of them get zapped as well. :-)

    Our telemarketing calls went from about twenty a day (based on caller ID when we were out, too), to nearly zero (occasionally, a local call slips through). It's a great setup.
    • Great until Bellsouth sells you out.

      We also pay for a service similar to yours, except that we only need to put in the phone numbers.

      The problem was that they sold the specs to major (local) marketing firms.
  • by parp ( 222416 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @12:05PM (#3542651) Homepage
    I am elated that certain states are stepping up to the plate to regulate telemarketers who are clearly showing they have no morals and need regulation. The regulations in California and New York are great! What disappoints me is this isn't national.

    <story from hell> In January I dropped MCI as my long distance carrier in favor of Working Assets [] (a company with morals!). Well despite telling MCI 3 times I had changed phone companies, they kept billing me. I called and complained and they told me it was taken care of.

    Then one morning in mid April I got an electronic voice call from MCI telling me to call this 800# immediately to resolve a problem. I called and they were still looking for me to pay for service I didn't get (bill totaling $5.12). I of course had to go through customer service transfer hell, and talk to half a dozen clueless people over the course of 2 hours. Finally I got one rep with a clue who said he cleared up the problem.

    Not 5 minutes later I got another electronic voice call - call MCI now or else! I called, 2 reps said I still owed money, their supervisor said I didn't owe, and their system was updating. Well, for the next 5 days I continued to get electronic voice calls from MCI every 2 hours from 8am to 10pm demanding I call this 800# to take care of my problem.

    Obviously I was really pissed, not just about this over billing, but these damn calls that wouldn't go away. So after 4 calls I called my local police department and talked to a detective. I was Furious to learn Massachusetts has No laws regulating telemarketers, auto dialers, or electronic voice calls. Despite agreeing with me that these calls are harassing, he said there is nothing he could do, even having these recorded messages on my answering machine.

    So after 5 days the calls finally stopped and MCI credited me which is nice, but geesh! </story from hell>

    Please make these laws National!

    • If your state has no harrasement laws, I guess you're legally in the clear when you set your voice-modem to dial that #800 number every 30 minutes, play music, and hang-up

      Since this system would keep your modem out-of-action while you're using it, I suggest leaving it running next time you go away on holiday

      If lawyers/phone company threaten you, simply play-back your conversation with the policeman about phone-harassement.
  • Oregon (Score:3, Informative)

    by Phroggy ( 441 ) <slashdot3&phroggy,com> on Saturday May 18, 2002 @12:13PM (#3542688) Homepage [], I signed up last month. Won't take effect until the next quarter (June), when telemarketers receive the new lists.
    • We're seeing one of the vicious political campaigns in our state election history. (The television ads the candidates for the Republican nomination for governor are broadcasting would embarass a six-year-old.) I'd say 80-90% of the telemarketers who call my house are little more than automated phone messages for one candidate or another.

      Last night's news broadcast just revealed that while you can tell both commerical & charity callers to put you on their ``Do Not Call List", these politicians gave themselves immunity to this restriction. And to observing the ornocall database.

      I expect there will be an initiative to close this loop hole in the September election.

  • I signed up online when I heard it was available, probably about 2 years ago. Since then, I've gotten maybe 2 telemarketer calls.

    This list really does work. My company has to maintain our do not call list from several sources in addition to people telling us straight out. Companies have to take this very seriously or risk the fines, and they hate losing money for stupid reasons.
  • One fun thing to do is to listen to their pitch. Every few seconds or so politely interrupt the sales person for one moment, turn away from the phone and yell with a thick redneck accent, "you f*@#ing whore!!! Get your $#@*! in the kitchen!" Then apologize to the sales person. Gradually escalate the interruptions by making beating sounds or having your girlfriend start crying or scream.
  • The opt-out system in NY works great. There are few exemptions, and there are penalties.

    The one thing that HAS been a problem are survey callers now. I've gotten called a dozen times in the past two weeks DURING DINNER asking if I would like to participate in a survey. I asked on of the to take me off their list and the claim that they do not have lists. ARGHHH

    I don't want the lack of unsolicited commercilal calls to be replaced with surveys...
  • And make the callER pay for the telephonecall.

    I know /. has been over this a dozen times, but I STILL don't understand the logic behind making the recipient of a telephonecall foot the bill.
  • The UK is pretty well represented by some effective opt-out services. I believe that only the telephone preference service is legally enforced, but since mail is centralised at the Post Office the MPS is quite effective, too.

    Telephone: Telephone Preference Service []

    E-mail: E-mail Preference Service []

    Fax: Fax Preference Service []

    Snail mail: Mail Preference Service []

  • Here [] is the story. Local TV station got one, tested it, found they're crap. Thousands of other unsuspecting idiots found out the hard way...they bought one. :P
  • A couple of years ago, I received one of those "automated telemarketing" calls (the legal term is that the call came from an "automated dialing-announcing device" or ADAD), from AT&T.

    The call sought to entice me to subscribe to AT&T's cable modem service. I was already a customer, so I was baffled as to why they didn't have a cross-check system to prevent calling their own customers. But more importantly, their use of an ADAD was illegal in California, if they were calling non-customers.

    I made a lot of phone calls and eventually spoke with AT&T Broadband's in-house legal counsel in Colorado. To his credit, he immediately recognized the legal issue and promptly ordered that the campaign be suspended pending his investigation.

    In the end, his investigation determined that the ONLY people being called with the sales pitch for AT&T Cable Modem service were existing customers of AT&T's cable modem service. While this meant that the calls were technically not illegal (since it is legal to use ADADs to call your own customers), it was obviously a colossal waste of time and effort, which could only serve to annoy existing customers.

    Naturally, the intent of the marketing team at AT&T Broadband was to call their cable-TV customers who did NOT already have cable-modem service. However, it turned out that the company had internal "checks and balances" that prevented the "cable modem" people from getting access to the "non-modem cable" customers.

    Later, AT&T used the same ADAD technology to call its customers on Saturday, December 5 to inform them that the @home service ended on December 4 (as if they didn't already know) and several days later, the ADADs were used to notify cable modem customers that service had been restored through AT&T Broadband's own network. Now there is a valid use of ADAD technology.

    Note that currently, since the switch from @home and until the Comcast merger closes, AT&T Broadband Internet is essentially a completely independent and unrelated entity, with no connection except name and ownership (and wires) with AT&T Broadband (cable TV).

    The only other ADAD call I've ever received that made sense was the medical-appointment reminder call I get from UCSF several days before each doctor visit.

    At least once a month, I get an ADAD call, always in violation of California or federal law, but the calls are always Caller-ID blocked and don't identify the caller, so I haven't been able to do anything about them.

  • FWIW, the New York No Call list works wonderfully - I went from getting 10(ish) calls a week to absolutely none.

    But there's another trick - if you move around a bit, don't tell ANYONE where you're going. When I lived with the 'rents in Jersey I got lotsa calls (which is funny - I got a great professional rate deal for Time magazine when I was 15 because my father told them I was a psychiatrist. I guess they assumed I needed it for my waiting room or something) Anyway, when I moved to Queens I told the Phone Company, ConEd, and the NYTimes where I was going. Haven't been called or spammed since.

  • Ever since I got my new cordless phone that has caller ID, this tick I've developed has me clicking the "talk" button twice in rapid succession every time I see "Unknown Name/Unknown Number" in the Caller ID info. Unfortunately, this means that the caller, er, telemarketer, gets disconnected before I even get a chance to say hello. Bummer.
  • Just hang up.

    The second I know it's a telemarketer on the line, I simply hang up--no explanations needed, wanted, or given. Sure it's mean and cruel, but hey, they're the ones who are intruding on my time, trying to sell me junk that I don't want or need.

    The strange thing is that I think that they're starting to get the hint. The number of telemarketing calls I've gotten in the past few months has fallen off dramatically...

    In short, who needs laws to take care of this when it's so simple to take care of yourself? Have we become such a nation of docile sheep that we'll take anything that anyone dishes out at us? I certainly hope not!

    -- Shamus

    Things have been looking brighter ever since I gave up hope
  • by Observer ( 91365 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @01:41PM (#3543020)
    FWIW, here in Switzerland you can ask for your phone directory entry (dead tree and online versions) to be flagged with an asterisk, which means "no advertising, thanks". Do this, and the lists that the directory company sells for telemarketing don't contain your number, and - mostly - if someone calls you despite this they're sensible enough to back off immediately when you point out that your number is flagged in this way. There is no charge for this flagging, btw.

    "No advertising" stickers on your physical mailbox are - mostly - also respected here.

    I'm not absolutely sure, but I believe that both of these mechanisms are merely advisory with no legal sanctions behind them. Companies operating in Switzerland seem to have worked out that if people signal that they don't want junk mail and junk faxes and junk phone calls then it's a bad idea to irritate them by ignoring these signals. Of course, in Switzerland the citizenry gets to vote directly on issues at all levels of government from local community up to national, and if telemarketeers and their like really pissed off the general public they might find that the federal government would be instructed by voters to Do Something About It.

  • My phone company had a telemarketer call me to offer a 'no-telemarketers' service where they would put a block on my line that would prevent telemarketers from calling me.

    I asked him if, had I already had the service, it would have blocked him. He said, 'No, of course not.'

    The funniest part, he didn't see the irony of it.

    I told him I'd pass.
  • I'm not sure if they are illegal in South Africa, but I don't ever remember getting such a call. Part of that is that it is not socially acceptable.

    Nobody would buy anything because they would be too busy screaming at you or hanging up in a huff. This is a GOOD thing, I think.

    Perhaps with enough opt-out etc. crap in the USA, it will eventually get to the point where cold calling people is simply considered so rude it won't work any more.

    I really think opt-outs are the lowest sort of weasling. They only exist because politicians listen to money instead of people. :-P
  • by bubblegoose ( 473320 ) <bubblegoose AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday May 18, 2002 @02:12PM (#3543128) Homepage Journal
    I was stalked by these bastards and I learned you must to say the magic words:
    "Put me on your do not call list, and do not distribute my information".
    After that ask them if they have one (they are required by law to keep one)and if they understood you.
    By ALWAYS saying that to the bastards I finally got the calls to stop, no special devices, no being a prick. I might get one call a month.

    A great resource for this is
    • I've taken to doing that too. I went from about 10 calls a week down to one or two a month, usually from charities who show up on the caller ID (So I just don't pick up.)

      The caller ID helps a lot too. If it says unknown and I notice it, I wait for them to start talking on the answering machine. If too many unknowns start showing up on the caller ID again, I'll start answering and telling them to add me to their do not call list again.

  • These guys are the worst to me. When I was graduating from highschool I would get atleast 2 or 3 calls a week from the Marines/Navy/Army. The Army wanted to come to my house and show me videos, uh no thanks. Now the marines tried to convince me going to college was a waste of time. They kept asking what seperates me from all the other people out there. The cocky person I am, I said well i'm just better than them. I still get calls from them every now and then, but now I know its them. The next time they call i'm gonna say sure, as soon as you guys catch Bin Laden.
  • what do other people think about this idea

    a "safe zone" where telemarketers, if they call you during it, can be sued and all that crap, and otherwise, its just slimey business as usual.. like, "no calls from 6pm til 8am" so that families can plan on dinner together (thats a pretty important thing to have for a family) and if the phone rings, they know they should answer it. they could call it the "safe harbor from sleazeballs during dinner" act.

    i know its a compromise but i'd settle for it, myself.
  • by jat2 ( 557619 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @03:07PM (#3543311)
    The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) has their own opt-out for mail, phone and email. In my experience, it works quite well. You can get more information from the following URL: . It generally takes 3 months to work, but I found that it works best if you can get on the list before your new info has a chance to circulate.

    I also found that asking credit card companies to put you on their "do not call unless someone stole my card" list at the same time as you give them your new info allows you to avoid that whole "4--6 weeks" before it takes effect line they give you.

    Using these two strategies, I have not received any phonecalls or mail from commercial telemarketers in almost three years. Charities are another story.

  • by jageryager ( 189071 ) on Saturday May 18, 2002 @03:11PM (#3543328)
    I'm on the NY State Do not call list. A while back I got a call. I took down their information, and filed a compaint with the state.

    About 6 months later New York State sent me a letter telling me that the company that had called me had been fined $11,000 for the 11 complaints that had been filed against it!

    As others have posted above, the Do not Call law does work.
  • Talk to them. Let them throw their entire sales pitch to you. Act interested and ask them as many questions as you can think of. Keep them on the phone for as long as possible and then tell them you're not interested. Time is the only asset they have that you control. If You just hang up or block them, and they'll move on to the next potential customer, but if you waste as much of their time as possible without buying whatever they are selling, you'll do much more damage to their business. I did this for a few months and now I almost never get telemarketing calls. I kinda miss hearing that enraged "WHAT?" whenever I keep them on the phone for 30 minutes and then say I'm not interested.
  • Hi folks,

    I've been working for the company that is compiling Indiana's telephone privacy list. This is an opt-out list of names and numbers which telemarketers are prevented by law from calling.

    Indiana residents can call 1-888-834-9969 or visit the Attorney General's website [] to register.



  • I start my sob story about living next door to the World Trade Center and having my world blown away on Sept, 11th and being unemployed since then and...

    And you know, they don't let me finish the sentence.

    Word must get around too. Nobody's really bothered me since.
  • by DiveX ( 322721 ) <> on Saturday May 18, 2002 @04:50PM (#3543647) Homepage
    Don't just make some causal 'place me on your do-not-call list' statement and hang up...mkae them follow through. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 has multiple requirements that would interest readers.
    1. The use of prerecorded ads is illegal under this act (with the exception of emergency calls [i.e. evacuation notices]).
    2. Upon request, they *must* send you a written copy of their DNR policy.
    3. They must train their people in the use of the DNR policy and the implementation of it. e.g. If you ask for a written copy of the policy and they say one does not exist or they know nothing about it, then that can be construed as 2 violations of this federal law.

    The actual numbers for those interested in reading up on this is 'Title 47 USC Section 227' and 47 CFR 64.1200.

    The great thing about this law, unlike most anti-spam bills, is that it allows private right of action against the telemarketer. That's right, if they violate these rules, you can take them to small claims court. If you tell them to not call you again and they do so again within the next 10 years, that is another $500 violation. If you can demonstrate that they willfully violated this act (i.e. called you several time or used a clearly illegal prerecorded message), then you can ask for triple damages! Other things to remember, there is NO grace period for adding your name to the list. Even if they say it will 'take 8-10 days to completely remove the number' and call again the next day, that is a violation of the federal law.

    The FTC is finally working on creating a national DNR list as directed by Congress when the TCPA was passed.

    Do not just hang up or ignore these people. Know your rights and exercise them. Keep a log of the calls and get names and numbers. If they call once more it probably isn't worth it, but if they call more than that, then you have case history and the law to ack you up and can easily get a judgement (although collecting is always a different story). One story I remember from my research is a company in NJ was making calls for GM in Ohio. The guy went to court and got a judgement, but the firm in NJ said they wouldn't pay since they were in different states. The guy found that Ohio has a law stating that sompanies that do not pay legal judgements cannot conduct business in the state. The guy wrote the president of GM and said if they ever wanted to sell cars in that state to pay up...a check was sent less than 5 days later.

    Many states have their own list, however I am not aware if any of the states allow for private action. Any legal action usually must be done by the state. Get on your state's list. It will help aid you if you persue action under the TCPA.

    Here are some links for those interested in reading up: (private group dedicated to ant-telemarketing intrusions) (story of one woman's fight against the date she has collected over $30,000 since 1999 including $10,000 from Discover Card.

  • For Colorado: []
  • I bought a TeleZapper last summer. I've been using it since then(well since recently). It is simply a tone generator that will beep at the frequency of the first SIT tone. For $50 it would be an incredible rip-off. Well, that is, if it actually worked. The manufacturer that makes it didn't even add the whole SIT sequence! That means that all a telemarketing firm has to do is check for the WHOLE SIT sequence.

    But that doesn't really matter. A couple days ago, I got a digital PBX, and programmed it to play a message saying "Hello you have reached XXX-XXX-XXXX. If you are a telemarketer ADD US TO YOUR DO-NOT-CALL-LIST. Please dial XXX for X, XXX for X, or XXX for X.(LONG PAUSE). PLEASE HOLD FOR AUTOMATED VOICE MAIL..." any telemarketers that call and actually get through are breaking the law, as they MUST honor and keep a do-not-call-list. If I get any voice mail messages from them, or if they even dial an extension I'll threaten (and maybe take) legal action. Several have called, and all I get on the voice mail box is " to make a call please hang up and tr[BEEP][BEEP][BEEP][BEEP][CLICK]". This seems to be because they hang up after the PBX plays the message. The PBX then has a bit of a delay before its active call detection times out. Well, the saturday round of telemarketing calls have all been blocked, and its worked pretty well so far.

    For those who wouldn't want an actual PBX (here's one on ebay [] currently $33), several companys make similar things that basically do same thing, without the main function of a PBX, for about $130.
  • Since I signed up for the "Privacy Manager" service offered by Pacific Bell, I haven't gotten a single telemarket call. It blocks out people who don't have their caller ID exposed, requiring them to turn it on (at a prompt) or to speak their name so their call can be screened. Telemarketers never make it past the service, because their computerized dialers can't deal with it properly.

    Some idiot in the CA assembly has proposed a state law to force telemarketers to reveal their caller ID so consumers can screen them out manually. This would totally hose me, because then they'd skate past the privacy manager prompt. Yes, I'd be able to see who's calling (how much you want to bet that the caller ID info would be "misleading" anyway?), but the main problem is that the phone would actually ring, requiring me to pick it up. I haven't gotten a telemarket call in the 8 months or so since signing up for the service. I used to get 5-10 a day, and I don't want to experience that again even if it only means checking the caller ID window on my phone.

    If they want to pass an anti-telemarketing law, it should be one that forces telemarketers to keep their caller ID hidden and that forces the telephone company to offer Privacy Manager to everyone free of cost. Otherwise, don't f*ck with a beautiful thing!!
  • Back in the day - I mean the day of rotary phones here, when "dialing" actually described how you selected who you wanted to call - my grandmother used to keep a very, very loud whistle next to the phone. Obscence or harassing phone callers were greeted with a blast into the mouthpiece.

    I'm starting to wonder if the same idea might not be the best strategy for dealing with telemarketers...

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.