I'm so sick of getting unwanted, unauthorized phone calls from people trying to sell me some amazing product I could care less about. You see, I'm the kind of person that only wants to receive information about something I've asked someone about. I ask, they can answer; I don't ask, they shouldn't bother me. For example, when I go to the hardware store, I don't want the courteous company representative asking me if I need help. If I need assistance, I will find someone and ask. I take a similar position with the phone calls I receive, in that I don't want to receive them from strangers trying to sell me something I didn't authorize them to sell me in the first place. Maybe it's just me, but I find this behavior very intrusive and utterly disrespectful. Good thing is, there are laws that help prevent telemarketers from trying to sell us their products on the phone without our prior consent. I searched the Web for information about this and came up with a few very informative Web sites, of which JunkBusters.com is the best in my opinion. I've put together a summary of our rights, the laws, and even a script of what to ask for and say when bothered by a telemarketer.
The Federal law governing telemarketers is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), 47 USC Section 227. Details are provided by the Code of Federal Regulations 47 CFR Section 64.1200.
|The first thing you should do when you have a pesky telemarketer on the phone is to record the date and time of the call. You should also record their responses to the questions in the script.|
|"No person or entity shall initiate any telephone solicitation to a residential telephone subscriber before the hour of 8 A.M. or after 9 P.M. (local time at the called party's location)." *|
|"No person may initiate any telephone call to any residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver a message without the prior express consent of the called party."|
|What You Say:||The Law Is:|
|What is the name of the company you are calling me for? *||"A person or entity making a telephone solicitation must provide the called party with the name of the individual caller, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and a telephone number or address at which the person or entity may be contacted."|
|Is this a telephone solicitation?||A solicitation is a telephone call intended to "encourage the purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods, or services." Moreover, "the term 'unsolicited advertisement' means any material advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services which is transmitted to any person without that person's prior express invitation or permission."|
|Could you please tell me your full name? *||"A person or entity making a telephone solicitation must provide the called party with the name of the individual caller, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and a telephone number or address at which the person or entity may be contacted."|
|And your phone number? *||(same as above)|
|And what is your company's mailing address? *||(same as above)|
|Does the company you are calling for maintain a do-not-call list (a list of numbers it's been asked not to call)? *||"No person or entity shall initiate any telephone solicitation to a residential subscriber unless such person or entity has instituted procedures for maintaining a list of persons who do not wish to receive telephone solicitations made by or on behalf of the person or entity."|
|I would like you to add me (my telephone number) to that list. *||"If a person or entity making a telephone solicitation (or on whose behalf a solicitation is made) receives a request from a residential telephone subscriber not to receive calls from the person or entity, the person or entity must record the request and place the subscriber's name and telephone number on the do-not-call list at the time the request is made." Furthermore, they "…must maintain a record of a caller's request not to receive future telephone solicitations. A do-not-call request must be honored for 10 years from the time the request is made."
|Does your company make telemarketing calls for any other organizations?|
|(If yes): can you make sure I'm on those do-not-call lists as well? *||(same as above)|
|Does the company you are calling for have a written policy concerning the do-not-call list? *||If they don't, they can be fined $10,000 from the FCC. "Persons or entities making telephone solicitations must have a written policy, available upon demand, for maintaining a do-not-call list."|
|Would you please mail me a copy of that written policy? *||(same as above)|
|"A person who receives more than one telephone call within any 12 month period by or on behalf of the same company in violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection may, if otherwise permitted by the laws or rules of court of a State bring in an appropriate court of that State:|
|A. an action based on a violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection to enjoin such violation,|
|B. an action to recover for actual monetary loss from such a violation, or to receive up to $500 in damages for each such violation, whichever is greater, or|
|C. both such actions.|
|It shall be an affirmative defense in any action brought under this paragraph that the defendant has established and implemented, with due care, reasonable practices and procedures to effectively prevent telephone solicitations in violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection. If the court finds that the defendant willingly or knowingly violated the regulations prescribed under this subsection, the court may, in its discretion, increase the amount of the award to an amount equal to not more than 3 times the amount available under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph."|
|If You Want to Sue:|
|Are you calling for a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization?||Unfortunately, the law precludes nonprofit organizations from being sued.|
|"The term 'telephone call' in sec. 64.1200(a)(2) shall not include a call or message by, or on behalf of, a caller: which is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization."|
|Is this call based on a previously established business relationship?||Unfortunately, the law precludes suing an entity with which you have a pre-existing relationship.|
|"The term 'established business relationship' means a prior or existing relationship formed by a voluntary two-way communication between a person or entity and a residential subscriber with or without an exchange of consideration, on the basis of an inquiry, application, purchase or transaction by the residential subscriber regarding products or services offered by such person or entity, which relationship has not been previously terminated by either party."|
* If a telemarketer answers "no" to this question (or calls you outside the applicable calling hours), you may be able to sue them for $500 to $1,500 under the TCPA (so long as they're not a company with which you have a pre-existing relationship or a tax-exempt nonprofit organization).