How To Stop Annoying Calls
If you live in the United States, it really is possible to put an end to telemarketing solicitations. The easiest way is to add your residential telephone number to the National Do-Not-Call Registry. The registry is nationwide in scope, applies to all telemarketers (with the exception of certain non-profit organizations), and covers both interstate and intrastate telemarketing calls. Commercial telemarketers are not allowed to call you if your number is on the registry. As a result, consumers can, if they choose, reduce the number of unwanted phone calls to their homes. Click here
If you choose not to add your number to the National Registry, you can continue to ask to have your phone number added to the in-house do-not-call list of each business that calls you. If you do this, telemarketers are still required to comply with the rules the FCC promulgated pursuant to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act which was enacted in 1991 as an amendment to the 1934 Communications Act. The TCPA consists primarily of 47 U.S.C. 227 (1992) as amended and the FCC's implementing rules (see generally 47 C.F.R. Part 64 Subpart 1200). The TCPA places conduct, record keeping, and disclosure requirements on entities engaged in telephone solicitations - including "live" telemarketing calls, prerecorded/automated telemarketing calls/messages and "junk" faxes . Further, the TCPA provides a private right of action by a consumer in State court in response to violations of the TCPA's regulations.
Just remember - while you might collect some cash as a self-appointed telemarketer cop, don't plan on getting rich. Your two motives should be to stop the calls to your home and to make it expensive for them to telemarket illegally. If even a small fraction of consumers made telemarketers jump through the hoops required by the TCPA, telemarketing would cease to be a profitable endeavor. The TCPA regulates live and prerecorded commercial solicitation calls to *residential* telephone numbers. It does not regulate calls made by tax-exempt nonprofit organizations.
According to the basic rules of the TCPA every telemarketer must refrain from calling you for a period of five years if your residential telephone number is on the National Do-Not-Call Registry
If your number is NOT included on the National Do-Not-Call Registry, telemarketers must:
- Limit calls to your residence to the period between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in *your* time zone
- Tell you their name and the name, address and phone number of the company on whose behalf the call is made
- Maintain a detailed in-house Do-Not-Call List and honor - for ten years - any request to not be called again
- Refrain from calling you for at least 5 years
- Each violation (there can be several in one phone call) can result in a civil penalty of $500 payable to you. If a call is determined to be willful and/or knowing, the penalty can be tripled to $1,500 per violation
You can request your Attorney General to file a suit against the telemarketer. If the Attorney General receives several complaints against the same telemarketer, it may take action against it. You should be able to find telephone numbers for these offices from the government section of your telephone directory or from directory assistance (many AG's are now online).
You can recover money for illegal telemarketing practices. The first step is to write a formal " demand " letter to the president of the company, stating that the letter is a formal claim for money (state the amount you are claiming) for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.
Set forth all of the details of the calls, including dates, times, the name of the persons who called, names of any supervisors you spoke to, the date you requested to be put on the Do-Not-Call List, and anything else you feel is pertinent.
State how you arrived at the amount you are claiming -- remember, the law says $500 for each violation but if it is determined that the violations were willful and knowing, that amount can be increased to up to $1,500 for each violation. If you are willing to settle for a reduced amount (an "offer-in-compromise"), state that you are willing to negotiate. While it is important to give them a reasonable amount of time to respond (like three weeks), it is important to include a deadline for responding. Tell them if you have not received the money by the deadline, you will seek redress in Court. Send the letter Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.
In your letter, be sure to ask for a copy of the company's written Do-Not-Call policy. Failure to provide it can increase your claim by another $500.
*This is not intended to be a thorough explanation of the law, nor does it attempt to offer legal advice. If you intend to make full use of this law, you should first consult an attorney. However you choose to use this information is with your full responsibility and at your own risk.