Updated: 1 December, 2004

The Anti-Telemarketing Program

(How to Get Rid of Junk Mail, Spam, and Telemarketers)

Courtesy Harold Fix
This is a program - a recommended procedure. It is not legal advice.

 

Some general rules and statements that I believe in and follow:

  1. I will always win if I keep my cool and stay level headed.
  2. I will never lose my temper, yell, scream or threaten a Telemarketer. If I do yell, scream etc. They win.
  3. Most people are not aware that the Telemarketer may be recording the conversation. This is their proof that a sale was made. However, phone calls should not recorded unless the person agrees to buy a product, and permission should be asked to record the call.
  4. The recorded conversations could be used as training aids for Telemarketers, although this is not usually done because recorded calls contain confidential information.
  5. I never make threats in any letter or phone conversation that I initiate.
  6. I will get as much information from them as I can before requesting to be placed on a, "DO NOT CALL LIST."
  7. I need to know the name, phone number and address of the company they are representing. Note that telemarkets will probably not give you their exact location.
  8. I need to know what is the service or product they are trying to sell me.
  9. I need to know what is the name, address and phone number of the Telemarketing firm calling me.
  10. I also need to know what is the name of the person calling and who is their boss.
  11. Some telemarketers may use fictitious names for so called security reasons. Some telemarketing companies will use this fact to make the claim that the person I named has never worked for their company, as an attempt to discredit my complaint.
  12. I will never provide a Telemarketer with any information about me.
  13. I will never give out Credit Card numbers to any Telemarketer or caller.
  14. I will never confirm or deny that they have reached the person requested.
  15. I will always state, "You will place the name and number called on your DO NOT CALL LIST." The telemarketer will then direct the company they are representing to delete you from their calling list.
  16. I will make a follow up phone complaint to the company being represented.

 

Generic Master Complaint Letter


I have a "Generic Master Complaint Letter," that can be used for all Telemarketing calls. This letter is customized for the specific Telemarketer and for the company being represented. It also serves as a record of my reasonable attempts to have the harassing calls stopped. The following points in my letter are made.
  1. Date and time I received the call.
  2. They are to place my wife's and my names, and our phone numbers, on a "DO NOT CALL LIST."
  3. They must send me a copy of their "DO NOT CALL POLICY."
  4. They must send confirmation that our names and phone number has been placed on their do not call list.
  5. They are not to call this phone number and ask to speak with any other person.
  6. The letter will include a brief statement to the affect that I will not do business with or recommend them, etc.
  7. I will contact the company they are representing and file a complaint.
  8. Any future violations of the Telemarketing Act by their company will not be appreciated.
  9. I reserve the right to post a copy of this letter on the Internet.
  10. This letter is being sent to all appropriate agencies.
  11. The company's named must not forward my address or phone number to any company involved in phone or mail solicitations.
  12. I reserve the right to pursue all legal options.
  13. The statement, "All we want is to be left alone."
  14. I emphasize that I found the Telemarketing calls to be, "Rude and unprofessional."
  15. They are not to call on the behalf of any other company.
  16. A reference number for the letter is always used.
  17. A copy of the letter is always kept.

 
I use this Master Complaint Letter for all correspondence when dealing with the Telemarketer and the company being represented. The letter is also modified to file formal complaints with the appropriate Better Business Bureaus, State Attorney Generals, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission. This method cuts my paperwork and time down to a reasonable period. Another advantage is that the complaint is consistent with all groups.
 
When possible, after I receive the first Telemarketing call, the following actions are taken.
  1. I follow the general rules and statements listed above.
  2. I will call the company and file a verbal complaint. (I read the letter that will be sent to them.)
  3. I will send a complaint letter to the Telemarketer. The Generic Master Complaint Letter is used for this. This letter is modified for the situation.
  4. I send the same complaint letter to the company being represented.

 
If the companies involved violate the Telemarketing Act and my privacy by calling back, I take the following action.
  1. I follow the general rules and statements listed above.
  2. I will call the company being represented and file additional verbal complaints. (I read the new letter to them before mailing it.)
  3. I send a modified complaint letter to the Telemarketer.
  4. I send the same complaint letter to the company being represented.
  5. I send a copy to the Better Business Bureau. Copies of the complaint are also sent to the State Attorney General, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission.
  6. I make follow up calls to the company being represented by the Telemarketer.

 

You Should Know About


From my experience, the following is information that people should know about the Better Business Bureau, State Attorney Generals, Direct Marketing Association, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communication Commission.
 

The Better Business Bureau

  1. In my experience, the Better Business Bureau is worthless for the consumer. The BBB will send you a follow up letter to your complaint with a time limit. They will do this every time you respond. Failure to meet the BBB's time limit will result in your complaint being listed as resolved. Failure to respond to the BBB will also result in your complaint being listed as resolved.
  2. You can only make one complaint against the company, regardless what that company does or how often they do it.
  3. Never allow the BBB to mediate a dispute, the odds of a favorable judgment in my opinion, are against you. Case in point, what is the BBB's mediation record with new car owners who file a complaint with the manufacturer or dealer? Compare this record with States that run their mediation program, why is there such a huge difference? Why do car manufactures recommend the BBB for resolving disputes? The consumer should do some very careful research before relying on the BBB for anything.
  4. All of my correspondence with the BBB is for the record only. I do not expect anything from this over rated group. My cover letters to the BBB include the statements that, "The BBB is developing a nation wide reputation as a organization that favors businesses." "That I do not appreciate time limits being placed on my complaint and unless I write in stating otherwise, this complaint should be listed as unresolved."

 

The State Attorney Generals

  1. My experience shows that you will be very lucky to get a response from the Attorney Generals when filing complaints against Telemarketers. Case in point, the New York and New Jersey Attorney Generals have never responded to my complaint letters.
  2. The Direct Marketing Association makes political contributions to Democrats and Republicans, what makes you think that the Attorney Generals will bite the hand that feeds them?
  3. Your complaint, regardless of the facts and details will be turned over to a consumer mediator.
  4. Check out your Attorney Generals track record with complaints against Telemarketers. Look at the Texas State Attorney Generals web site and see how many complaints he gets each year. Dan Morales might as well as post a sign that says. "Telemarketers are welcomed and should have no fear."
  5. When the Attorney Generals do respond, they will refer you to the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission.

 

The Direct Marketing Association

  1. The BBB's and State Attorney Generals will suggest that you contact the Direct Marketers Association and request to be placed on their DMA list. Stay away from the Direct Marketers Association and its DMA list. Ask yourself, do you really want to give your name, address and phone number to direct marketers?

 

The Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission

  1. If you do your research, you will find that the FTC and FCC track record with Telemarketers is poor. Basically, your on your own.
  2. The FTC and FCC will send you pamphlets explaining your options and suggest that you file a complaint with your trusty State Attorney General.

 

Junk Mail


Information that I would like to pass on dealing with Junk Mail:
  1. If you receive any junk mail that includes a "No Postage Necessary If Mailed In The United States," envelope. Do not panic. I take all of their junk solicitations, tear it up and mail it back to them using there pre-paid envelopes.
  2. I also recommend finding other junk to stuff in their envelope. Why fill up your local landfill with their unwanted junk mail when you can mail it back to them, and more, at their expense. Why not fill up their landfill?
  3. Some people write obnoxious messages on their return envelope like, "Only idiots do business with this company," etc.

 
By following these basic rules, you will have the satisfaction of increasing their mailing and disposal costs.
 

Letter to send to telemarketers


To whom it may concern,
 
Over the past several years, your company has called my home numerous times. We have repeatedly requested that our phone number be placed on your DNC list. Your company has failed too comply with Federal rules, regulations, and laws concerning this matter.
 
It is estimated that over ten thousand telemarketers in this country are engaged exclusively in fraud. Telemarketers are no different from terrorists; both have destroyed lives and caused immeasurable pain and suffering. For this reason, we will not do business, or recommend any business that engages in telemarketing.
 
Do not call my home again. You are to place my phone number on your Do Not Call List as required by federal law. If your company makes phone solicitations for other firms, my phone number is to be placed on their Do Not Call Lists as well. Furthermore, you are to mail your Do Not Call Policy to my address, as required by federal law.
 
Failure to comply with the Telemarketing Act may result in complaints being filed with the Better Business Bureau and State Attorney General in the state that you operate. Additional complaints would be filed with the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, whose regulations are, in my considered opinion, being violated. Additional legal action would be considered as well.
 
There never has been, nor will there ever be, a legitimate telemarketing phone call.
 
 

Additional Tips


Additional action that can and should be taken include:
  1. Never, never, never provide your name on your personal telephone answering machine. The only message that should be provided is, "You have reached, (provide phone number), at the tone, please leave your name and number and I will return your call."
  2. Write a letter to the Credit Bureaus requesting that your name, address and phone number not be provided to direct marketers, etc.
  3. Avoid using 800 numbers from your home. Why provide a company with a record of your phone number? Call from a pay phone. Always provide a fake phone number to the business.
  4. Do not allow a company to call you back. What they really want is your phone number.
  5. Never enter contests that require your phone number. This is one of many ways, that the Telemarketers use to get your name address and phone number. Remember, there is no such thing as a "Free 18'X20' Photo" or "Exotic Trip." (I know of several people who love these fake contest gimmicks. They sign up her ex-spouses for them all the time.)
  6. Never give out your real address and phone number to a company. For example, a local computer store near my home, "Micro Center," always asks for my address, phone etc. It is none of their business and I will give out a fictitious address and phone number when making cash or credit card purchases.
  7. Never pay for anything using a personal check, it has your address and phone number on it and the stores will use this information to put you on their marketing lists.
  8. When paying bills by mail, ink out your phone number on any personal check used before mailing it.
  9. Never use a "Debit Card."


 
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