Reducing unsolicited telemarketing robocalls
Dec. 5, 2016
by Mark Ollig

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another.

The telephone is ringing and we check the caller ID display.

We don’t recognize the number and think, “Maybe it’s an important call,” so we answer and hear the following automated (but cheerfully sounding) voice.

“Congratulations! Your name has been specially selected by WXYZ Travel Adventures for an all-paid cruise to the Bahamas! Please press 1 to speak directly with our cruise director, who will provide you with all the exciting details; and again, congratulations!”

I wonder how many of us would have hung up the phone halfway through this automated telemarketing message or “robocall.”

Let me state from the onset; there are legitimate robocalls not trying to sell you anything.

For example, automated calling systems are used by schools to inform students, parents, and custodians about school closings, or other announcements.

In March, the FCC issued an “Enforcement Advisory” concerning telephone robocalls and texting messages sent to cell phones and other mobile devices.

It re-affirms many of the regulations from the FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991.

The TCPA places limits on unsolicited, prerecorded telemarketing calls to landline home telephones, and any autodialed calls or prerecorded voice calls to wireless cell phone numbers.

Robocalls may not be dialed into emergency numbers, fire protection or law enforcement agencies, and patient rooms at health care facilities.

The last thing I want if I am in a hospital bed, is to answer the phone and hear a robocall – of course, if no one had visited me that day, and the robocall had a pleasant-sounding voice, I’d probably listen.

The National Do Not Call Registry website is a public service of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and allows us to register up to three telephone numbers, in order to prevent telemarketing companies from calling them.

You must provide a valid email address to have your telephone number(s) processed.

To complete the registration, an email will be sent to you from Register@donotcall.gov.

This email must be opened, and its message link clicked within 72 hours to activate the do-not-call service.

Yours truly had registered some years back, but I wasn’t sure if the telephone number was still registered, so I used the National Do Not Call Registry website’s verification link to find out.

The verification process involved entering my phone number and email address.

Within seconds after completing the verification, my smartphone alerted me of an email message from Verify@donotcall.gov.

The email informed me I had successfully registered my telephone number nearly nine years ago, Dec. 29, 2007.

I learned registrations on the National Do Not Call Registry never expire.

If you want to register or verify your landline or mobile phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry, visit https://www.donotcall.gov.

The National Do Not Call Registry will never call you to sign up. Note this special alert message on their website: “Scammers have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry. The calls claim to provide an opportunity to sign up for the Registry. These calls are not coming from the Registry or the Federal Trade Commission, and you should not respond to these calls.”

If you do not have an email address, you can register, verify, or remove a telephone number by calling 1-888-382-1222, and via TTY (Text Telephone) using 1-866-290-4236, and follow the response prompts.

If your telephone number has been registered for at least 31 days, and you are still receiving telemarketer calls, you can file a complaint with the FTC at the https://www.donotcall.gov website, or by calling the Do Not Call Registry number listed in the previous paragraph.

You will need to provide the date of the call, and the telephone number or the name of the company who called you.

The FCC has an informative webpage with a Frequently Asked Questions link, along with additional resources for blocking unwanted calls, and more at https://www.fcc.gov/unwanted-calls.

If any telemarketers are reading this column, you can access the National Do Not Call Registry list of telephone numbers, by registering or logging into this web portal: https://telemarketing.donotcall.gov.

Types of organizations allowed to pay for access to the registered telephone numbers are listed here: https://telemarketing.donotcall.gov/faq/entity.aspx.

Be sure to follow and send me your text messages at @bitsandbytes on Twitter.

Advertise in over
250+ MN newspapers