Most of us know by now that listing your phone numbers on the federal Do Not Call Registry is, for the most part, a joke. Among the loopholes are provisions that election campaigners and organizations that you have done business with in the past can ignore your entry on the list.
This last provision is particularly troublesome. How many times have you received a call from a telemarketer whose charitable organization you have never heard of before thanking you for your previous support? If this has happened to you then your phone number has been shared on a sucker list with other similar unscrupulous organizations.
Other annoyances include calls identified as ANONYMOUS on your caller ID or 800 SERVICE or UNKNOWN.
Another problem are those just plain bogus numbers showing up on your caller ID. For several years now people have been receiving a spate of calls at all hours from a number 12-345-6789 or slight variations of the same number sequence, for example.
There should be a law that the information in the caller ID should be truthful and that you should be able to *69 or return the call to the number displayed and get an answer. Anyone who has tried this will find out that returning the call will usually result in an out of service message. But requiring truthfulness in caller IDs is likely to be as successful as the Do Not Call Registry.
So, what to do? Here a few tips of things you might try.
1. The simplest approach would be to not answer the phone at all unless you recognize the caller ID name or number. Let the call go to voice mail or let your answering machine pick it up. This takes a bit of mental endurance to ignore the lure of a ringing phone but what you will find is that most of the bogus or robo calls will just hang up.
2. Try blocking the call through your phone service. Unfortunately modern VOIP services like Comcast will only let you list 12 numbers. Check with your carrier to see if they offer the service and how many numbers can be blocked.
3. Purchase a call blocking device that connects to your land line phone. Entering “Call Blocking” into Amazon’s search field will result in a list of several devices. Many of these devices only cost about $60 and will block 1,000 or more numbers. Check the product details and product reviews carefully because some of these devices do not work well with VOIP services provided through Cox Communications or Comcast.
4. Talk to the folks calling you and request that your number be removed from their list. This will probably not work but it is worth a try.
5. Be careful who you share your number with and, if at all possible, don’t list it in the phone directory or enter it on website pages if at all possible.
6. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers without prior consent. (see https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0133-cell-phones-and-do-not-call-registry). The premise for this prohibition, as I recall, was because unlike land lines, cell phone users are charged for the minutes on all calls sent or received. Of course the prohibition only applies to telemarketers and robo calls which we know they ignore.
Like land line phones cell phone users still have to deal with those pesky nuisance calls. For some solutions try Googleing “call blocking app.” In the search results you will find apps and instructions on how to use your cell phone’s built in call blocking features. If your cell phone doesn’t have a call blocking feature try visiting your favorite app store to find one that will meet your needs.
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