BBB offers tips on dealing with telemarketers

With the national “Do-Not-Call” list in jeopardy and loopholes in regulation expanding, consumers must take every opportunity to protect their privacy.

“It’s almost impossible to stop all telemarketing calls,” said said Robert W.G. Andrew, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Oregon and Western Washington. “But consumers can be proactive in reducing the number they receive.”

Short of unleashing an ear-splitting horn blast into the phone or threatening to strangle the person on the other end of the line with his or her own intestines, the BBB offers these more sensible suggestions for dealing with telemarketers, who will probably be calling you around dinnertime:

Telemarketing Tips
– Do not hang up or say, “Thank you, we’re not interested.”
The company will only call you back. You must request to be put on that company’s “Do-Not-Call” list.

– Ask if their company calls for other businesses. If they do, request you be put on every “Do-Not-Call” list.

– Know your rights. Under federal law, you can tell tele-marketers to put you on their “Do-Not-Call” lists and sue them in small claims court for $500 if they call again.

– Document your request. Ask for the name and address of the company on whose behalf the salesperson is calling, and record that information, along with the date, on a pad you keep by the phone.

If the company calls again, write down the date. Contact your state or local consumer protection agency to find out if you also have “Do-Not-Call” rights under state law.

– Telemarketers in Washington and Oregon are required to register. Ask for a registration number of any telemarketer that violates regulations.

– Report violations. If your “Do-Not-Call” rights are violated, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 877/382-4357 or via e-mail at

Avoid Telemarketing Fraud
– Think twice before entering contests operated by unfamiliar companies. Fraudulent marketers sometimes use contest entry forms to identify potential victims.

– Resist pressure. Legitimate companies will be happy to send you detailed information and give you time to make a decision. It is probably a scam if the marketer demands you act immediately or won’t take “no” for an answer.

– Check your phone bill every month. You’ve been “crammed” when charges for miscellaneous services you never agreed to buy have been added to your phone bill. Some examples are phone-related services, such as voice mail, paging or personal 800 numbers.

You might also find charges for other types of services on your bill, such as Internet access and club memberships.