Robocalls? Not Much we can do . . . but Maybe a Little.

 I once sued a telemarketer for violating the National Do Not Call Registry. I was awarded $1,500 by the small claims court commissioner. I had fully intended to follow suit by supplementing my income suing every son-of-a-bitch company that showed contempt for both the registry and my inalienable right to a peaceful dinner while watching Jeopardy!

National Do Not Call Registry logo

You can fight against unwanted telemarketing calls by signing up on the Do Not Call Registry

Even though I know that small claims court is a piece of cake and a great way for the little guy to take down the bullies of telecommunication, I find an inexplicable emotional inertia within me when it comes to going to court and filing the suit.

So what alternatives are left?  First, sign up on the registry at https://www.donotcall.gov/Register/Reg.aspxHere are a few tips to wrangle successfully with the robo-rascals.  But  know this: anyone with whom you have an ongoing business relationship—for instance, a credit card company—is exempt from the do-not-call prohibition. Political campaigns and charities, as well as government calls for emergency situations, are also exempt.

First, get a phone with “caller ID” capability. They are relatively cheap. Then, get an answering machine. They’re cheap and easy to use.  If you get a call and you don’t recognize the number, let the machine pick it up. If it’s a call you want to deal with, pick up the phone. Otherwise, let the call die away.

If you do answer the phone and a recording instructs you to press a certain number, DON’T DO IT, not even if it tells you to press a number that will take you off their call list. It tells the calling device that it has reached a legitimate number that’s ripe for receiving telemarketing calls. Just hang up.

Check out the site nomorobo.com. It works best with VoIP and mobile phone services. VoIP is Internet phone service.  It often comes as part of a package with cable and Internet services. Nomorobo blocks any calls it recognizes as coming from unwanted robocallers. I use AT&T landline service and Nomorobo is not yet supported by AT&T landline service, although it does work with AT&T VoIP service.

You can report any robocalls to the federal government at 888 382-1222 or at https://complaints.donotcall.gov/complaint/complaintcheck.aspxBut I am dubious about the number of people who would bother to take that road. I am also dubious about the effectiveness of such reporting.

And finally, if you are receiving telemarketing calls from a local company, get the person on the line to give you the company phone number and address. Then get in touch with your local small claims court to learn about the procedures to get the evildoers into court in order to sue them for the $500 fine to which you are entitled; even more for multiple violations.

Good luck.

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