When the National Do Not Call Registry went into effect in 2003, it sounded like a solution to a problem that had long plagued the public: annoying and never-ending telemarketing calls. While the registry does stop legitimate telemarketers, it’s done nothing to curb callers who don’t care about the law. Here’s why the National Do Not Call List doesn’t protect you from phone scams and what you need to do to protect yourself:
1) Because illegal callers don’t care about the law. A law is only useful when people choose to abide by it, especially if it’s not rigidly enforced. Legitimate companies don’t call people who are on the National Do Not Call Registry, but shady firms and scammers call whomever they please. They know that the federal agencies charged with enforcing the registry are woefully understaffed, and their chances of being caught are slim. Even if they do get busted, the fines are easily paid out of their ill-gotten profits.
There are moves by lawmakers to strengthen the penalties, but until that happens, don’t expect scammy companies to comply with the do not call list. If you’re on the list, always hang up on telemarketers because you know that they’re willfully violating the law every time they call you. Do you really want to do business with a company that would do that?
2) Because VOIP and off-shore call centers are cheap. Companies also skirt do not call laws by hiring overseas call centers to do their dirty work. VOIP technology means that the calls cost only pennies, and the call center agents work cheap. Hang up on these calls immediately because if you complain to the caller and say that you’re on the do not call list, he or she won’t care. At best, you’ll be laughed it or hung up on or the caller will ignore your words and continue with a high pressure sales pitch. At worst, the caller will curse at you or start calling you back repeatedly. You’ll find many cases of these abusive actions documented at www.800notes.com. The callers don’t care because they’re thousands of miles away, in another country, and they know there’s nothing you can do to them.
3) Because there are many ways around it. The National Do Not Call Registry doesn’t apply to political phone calls, charity solicitations, or surveys. Unscrupulous companies quickly used these loopholes to your advantage. Now, as an example, some will call you with a “survey” that really just collects information to be used for telemarketing pitches. You’re told you “won” a free cruise for answering the survey questions, but it’s really a shady offer to get money for “fees and taxes” from you and lock you into a timeshare presentation. Worse yet, because you answered the survey, the company behind the calls takes that as permission to sell your phone number to a host of “partner companies” who bombard you with sales calls based on your survey answers.
Never believe a caller who wants you to take a survey or says you “won” something like free magazines or a gift card, as there will always be a cost attached. Yes, there are legitimate survey companies, but it’s better not to trust anyone because there are so many scams out there. Hang up immediately on these calls.
It’s still worthwhile to add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry because you’ll still stop some telemarketing calls. Sadly, however, that means that you’ll still be getting spammy and scammy calls from companies that flout the law. Just hang up on their calls to protect yourself from being ripped off.