How To Stop Telemarketers
From Calling You
It's a little-known fact that there is a Federal law that
regulates telemarketer activities. Some telemarketers don't even
know they're subject to those provisions. You can use this law to
stop them from calling you. There are civil penalties for
telemarketing companies that don't follow the law, and the
penalties are to be paid to the consumer (that's you).
First and foremost, you should understand that you'll never
get rich doing this. Your two motives should be to get them to
stop calling you and to make it expensive for them to stay in
Simply hanging up on telemarketers doesn't hurt them at all,
but putting this law to use can. If even a modest fraction of
consumers made telemarketers jump through the hoops required by
this law, telemarketing would no longer be a profitable
This is a lay person's overview of the law. It does not
pretend to be a thorough explanation of the law, nor does it
attempt to offer legal advice. If you intend to make full use of
this law, you should first consult an attorney. However you
choose to use this information is with your full responsibility
and at your own risk.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991
The Federal law that governs telemarketers is the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) 47
USC Section 227. Details are provided in the Code of Federal Regulations 47 CFR Section 64.1200.
Among other things, this law states that telemarketers must
keep a "do-not-call" list. When consumers request that
their names be placed on that list, the company is barred from
calling them again for a period of 10 years.
The law also provides that:
- These calls must be made only during the hours of 8:00 AM
and 9:00 PM. Any telemarketing call made outside of these
hours is a violation.
- Any company engaged in telemarketing must provide a
written copy of their do-not-call policy, on demand.
- The company is also required to volunteer either their
address or phone number during the call. (This provision
seems to be uniformly ignored by telemarketers.)
Each violation (there can be several in one phone call) can
result in a civil penalty of $500.00, payable to you. If a call
is made to intentionally harass, the penalty can be tripled.
By the way, two classes of callers are exempt from the law:
tax-exempt charities and public opinion polls.
What To Do When You Get a Call
You can play this game either of two ways:
- If your time is limited, and all you want to do is
decrease the number of calls you receive, then each time
they call, just say, "Please put me on your
do-not-call list." Most telemarketers know about the
Federal law that governs their procedures, and they do
observe it. Just saying this one line will produce a
remarkable decrease in the number of calls you receive.
- If you want to be able to pursue a legal claim against
any company that calls more than once, then you must keep
records, as described below.
Keeping a Record of Telemarketing Calls
The best way is to keep a phone log by each phone. When the
call begins, the person usually gives their name and the name of
the company. Let them continue talking while you write down the
names. If you're not sure of the info or spelling, interrupt the
person and ask for the information again. Be sure to also note
the date and time of the call.
If you know it's a local company, and you know you can find
their phone number and/or address, you don't need to ask for it.
If they don't volunteer it, it's a violation (as noted above). If
you prefer, you can ask for that info, but then you're letting
them off the hook for that one provision of the law.
Then ask them if they have a do-not-call list. If they seem
familiar with the concept, simply ask to be put on the list. In
this case, that would be the end of call #1.
If the operator doesn't know about a do-not-call list, ask to
speak to a supervisor. Do not take "No" for an answer
-- he's not here right now, she's too busy to talk to you, etc.
There must be a supervisor on duty and you have a right to
register a complaint if you feel the company is not following the
provisions of the TCPA. Get the name of the supervisor, and write
Ask the supervisor whether the company does, indeed, maintain
a do-not-call list. If the supervisor does know about it, request
that your name be placed on the list. Otherwise, there are
immediate grounds for a claim.
How to Handle a Violation
If you think a company is in violation of the law and that you
have evidence to prove that, you can try to get them to pay you
for the violations. Here are some tips on
receiving funds from telemarketers.
More information can be obtained at one's local Office of
Consumer Affairs or State's Attorney General.
Private Citizen is an organization founded
by Bob Bulmash. He and his organization have been featured on numerous national news programs. One such story on Dateline NBC is where Cathy's mom first learned
about this law and started on her crusade, and now she's been featured on Good Morning America and several other news programs!
tips on receiving payment
- 47 USC §227 - 47 CFR §64.1200
Last updated on January 28, 1999.
Tom and Cathy Saxton. You may not copy or reproduce any content from this site without our consent.