I’ve heard it dozens of times: so-and-so signed up for the Do Not Call Registry a year ago, but they keep getting scam calls, so obviously it doesn’t work. What’s the point?
And I’ve always replied: put your phone numbers on the list anyway.
Because it’s a filter.
When you put your phone number on the Do Not Call Registry, after a few weeks, you will stop getting calls…from legitimate businesses that use cold calls as their primary sales technique (telemarketers, in other words). Companies that do not want to be shut down for breaking federal laws.
You won’t stop getting calls from scammers. They’re not referring to the registry in the first place because they don’t care. At the same time, you will already know not to even bother picking up the phone, because you know that anyone calling once your phone number is in the Registry is willfully breaking the law. You already know they’re dishonest, without hearing a word they say. All you have to do it let it ring until it stops.
Have you ever gotten one (or a couple thousand) of those robocalls where “Rachel From Cardholder Services” tells you to press “1” to lower the interest rate on all your credit cards?
If you pressed “1” instead of hanging up the phone in disgust, you were connected to a telemarketer who would attempt to scam you out of a couple thousand dollars in up-front fees. If you pressed “2,” you were supposedly removed from the call list. Of course, Rachel would still call back a few weeks later because pressing “2” did absolutely nothing.
It turns out there were five companies running this scam, and the FTC has now officially brought charges against them. These companies have violated a whole slumgullion of federal regulations. In other words, Rachel From Cardholder Services won’t be calling anymore.
I never liked her anyway.
Anyway, there’s an article over at the Consumerist that goes into more detail.
The National Do Not Call Registry is a vital step towards limiting your exposure to scams and fraud.
To add up to three phone numbers at one time to the Registry, simply visit donotcall.gov and click “Register a Phone Number.” There will be spaces to enter your phone numbers and a couple blanks for your email address (they make you type it twice to confirm; it’s one of the oldest methods to get people to enter correct addresses). Then you hit “Submit.”
After this, you’ll get a separate email message for each number you entered. You have to click on the links in these messages (or use copy/paste) to finalize your registration. I know, I always warn against clicking links in emails, but in this case, they are solicited—you’re the one who contacted them first, and asked for the service. At this point, you’re done.
You used to have to re-register every couple years, but they passed a new law a while back that makes Do Not Call Registry entries permanent. This means that, after a couple weeks, you’ll never get a telemarketing call again, for as long as you have the phone number you entered.
But wait, what if you do get a telemarketing call? One of two possibilities:
- It’s a legitimate call from a company you already have a relationship with, or it is from an exempt organization (I’m pretty sure political parties are an example). These calls are not prohibited and probably never will be.
- It’s a rogue entity that is completely ignoring the Registry, and is therefore running some form of scam.
It serves as an instant litmus test—if your number is on the Registry, anybody who makes a sales call to you is already violating federal law, so they probably don’t have any qualms about committing fraud.