The Villages Voice - May 2011

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About Those Pesky Telemarketers

by Seniors VS Crime

ABOUT THOSE PESKY TELEMARKETERS

By Gene Telep, Seniors Vs Crime

(3 am at the Fibber McGee household…)

“Ring, Ring, Ring”

“%%#@ Mollie…get the phone will ya?”

As Mollie finally picks up the phone, a recorded voice begins “Hello.  I’m calling for Hot Stuff Air Conditioning Company.  We are having a special this weekend blah, blah, blah...”

It’s just advertising, McGee...  I just hung up”

 

“Dag Nab it, Mollie...  now I won’t be able to get back to sleep  ...  z...  z...  z”

Sound familiar?  Automated calls, sometimes called “Robocalls” are getting more and more intrusive.  How can they be stopped?

There is a way, but there are limits.  There is a National Do Not Call Registry.  Contact them at 888-382-1222 BUT you must be calling from the phone which you want added to the Registry.  There is no charge to be added to the National Do Not Call Registry.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also maintains the State’s "Do Not Call" list.  Florida residents who do not wish to receive sales calls may have their residential, mobile or paging device telephone number included on this list.  Business numbers may not be included on the list.

There is an initial fee of $10 for each residential phone number and a $5 renewal fee per number, per year, for each residential phone number each year thereafter.  Residents who wish to join the state program should call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352), or the Spanish help line en Español 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).  Online, go to www.800helpfla.com/nosales.html.  You can ask to receive an application via regular mail.  Online, you can download the Do Not Call Subscriber Form [PDF] application to print and send in with your payment.  You may also join the Florida Do Not Call list online.

It is unlawful to make telephone sales calls before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. local time or prevent transmission of the solicitor’s name or telephone number to the party called.

The most frequent violations of the Do Not Call law occur because a solicitor fails to identify his or her true first and last names and the business on whose behalf he or she is soliciting.  They must do this immediately upon making contact; whenever calling a telephone number on the Do Not Call list (subscriber); and whenever they make a pre-recorded sales call to anyone.

Some unsolicited sales calls are exempt from the provisions of the law.  Solicitors may call you:

  • When a prior or existing business relationship exists.
  • In response to an express request of the person called.
  • From a newspaper publisher.
  • In connection with an existing debt or contract.
  • A real estate agent responds to a yard sign or other advertisement.

 

Furthermore, some solicitation calls are not "telephonic sales calls" as defined in the statute because they typically are not selling a product or service.  Generally, these calls are from:

  • Charitable organizations seeking donations.
  • Political candidates and political parties seeking donations.
  • Research or survey companies seeking an opinion.
  • Collection agencies trying to locate a debtor or collect on a debt.

Personally, I prefer to handle these calls by my recorded message as follows.

“Hello, we are home and can hear you, but we are screening our calls.  If you are a relative or a friend, leave your name and number, and we will return your call immediately.  If you are selling something, know that we either already have one, or don’t want one.  If you are requesting a political donation, we will be happy to contribute.  Press 12 to be connected to our bank directly.”  (Yes, I know there is no 12, but I’m sure you get the idea)

It’s easy to add your phone to the National Do Not Call Directory, and FREE!  – Even so, if you need a little assistance, you can always contact your Seniors Vs Crime office.  They can be reached at 352-753-7775 in Marion County or 352-689-4600, Extension 4606 in Sumter County.  Volunteers at both offices are ready, willing and trained to assist you.