"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms


telescum tape label

[screaming operator logo 46K]

Dealing with Telemarketing Slime

Inappropriate Telemarketing Practices

and Legitimate Uses of Telemarketing


Federal "Do Not Call" Index (US)

The "Do Not Call" list has expired.   Well, not exactly; but if you signed up in 2003, the 5 year limit has passed, and it is necessary to sign up again to stay on the List.
NOTE: The 5 year limit has been rescinded by the FCC and FTC, but it is still best to sign up again, just to be sure.
FTC 'Do Not Call' logo

NEWS

(since 1996) The Telemarketing Scum Page took on Ron Paul, and beat him!
Lists several political figures who are damaged goods and carry too much political liability as a result of their votes against the "Do Not Call" list while in Congress.
        (Ron Paul, Ted Strickland, Thomas Tancredo, Tim Ryan).

(In US elections, for the most part, whomever you vote for was in favor of restricting telemarketers. They'll probably have some sort of abortion position too for what that's worth.)


NEW ITEMS

NEW Standards for Email Privacy
... a good link to point to when otherwise intelligent individuals, or otherwise ethical businesses or organisations abuse this type of personal information.

Telemarketing Calls to Cell Phones - The rumours are bogus.

Sample Privacy Request Letter for making privacy requests under the GLBA (Graham-Leach-Bliley Act (US))
and
NEW to telecommunications privacy request letter (for privacy requests under the US Telecommunications Act 47 CFR § 222)

documentation form for documenting calls, "do not call" requests and privacy requests. (revised again 17-Nov for ease of use with wordprocessors)

(index to this page)

Federal Telemarketing Regulation - the "do not call" list
Where to Complain - actually why I can't give a generic answer to "where to complain".

old stuff:

"What's New" - New approach to this page
The Economics - Hanging up does not work
The Strategy - Hanging up does not work (still)
Getting Blacklisted
Details on Getting Blacklisted - 4 ways to get blacklisted including staying off their lists and automatic blacklisting
Summary of Things to Do
1-888-567-8688 (credit reporting agencies' "opt out" list)
Consume Time! when they strike
What Not to Do
Automated Calls
Charities (actually their contractors)
Phone Tactics used by Telemarketers
A Word of Caution
State "Do Not Call" Lists

(other pages at this site)

Abbreviated Cheatsheet - suitable for framing
A "Proactive" Approach (encourage others to resist telescum.)
Say "no" to requests to "review" your account for marketing information.
A Fun Lunchtime Project - to get off some of their targeted phone lists
Impolite Collection Agency Calls - and fake collection agency calls as a telemarketing scam
Telemarketing Calls to Cell Phones - The rumours are bogus.
Telemarketing Economics, including:
There's a reason people consider telemarketers to be the scum of the earth. - answers the question asked by telemarketers since 1996.
Charities (actually their contractors)
Legitimate Users of Telemarketing
Excuses for Telemarketing
More on the Economics including getting rid of local telemarketers
telemarketing_votes.html - list of Congressmen who Voted Against Enablement of the Federal Telemarketing Rule
Push Marketing - (customer service is now a dirty word.)
caution about giving any personal information to The DMA
(history of email abuse of address used solely on The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) "opt out" forms)


Give Them Your Number!

surveys and pay phones - Another fun project. Also information about Caller ID and ANI.
playing with pay phones - Another childish-but-fun project. Also information about Caller ID and ANI.


Scripts from the Telemarketing Scum Page

scripts
more hostile scripts
polite scripts .
"Counter-Script" from EGBG - martijn engelbregt
in the style of a telemarketing script.
Telescum "Repeat Naming" or Signifying Tactics


Technical Notes - from The Telemarketing Scum Page

How I defeated their "Call Progress Detection"!
Dry Technical Data   (mirrored at www.phreaksandgeeks.com, a "2600" site)
Zapper and Other Electronic Anti-Telemarketing Devices
mailboxing answering machine - allows customized messages for identified telescum
Telephone Rates and "Anti- Slam" Blocks
No Identity - a new trick in which the caller resists identifying the telemarketing operation
illegal taping - a technical explanation.
Automated Calls (mechanized calls without a live individual)


Filing Complaints

Here's the link. (www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx)
documentation form for documenting calls, "do not call" requests and privacy requests.
naming individuals when filing complaints - the Telemarketing Scum Page's admittedly feeble attempt at being radical.
... and there's a special page for naming lawyers
instructions on getting the attention of the legal department of a large corporation.


Privacy Issues

Sample Privacy Request Letter for making privacy requests under the GLBA (Graham-Leach-Bliley Act (US))     and
to telecommunications privacy request letter (for privacy requests under the US Telecommunications Act 47 CFR § 222)

documentation form for documenting calls, "do not call" requests and privacy requests.

National Privacy Laws Outside the US - This is the World Wide Web.

NEW Standards for Email Privacy
... a good link to point to when otherwise intelligent individuals, or otherwise ethical businesses or organisations abuse this type of personal information.


Miscellaneous

reducing email spam
Vertical Litter (street spam) - Not quite telemarketing but perhaps relevant.
Late Breaking Information
Alexandria, Virginia's Model Newspaper Delivery Law - Alexandria's response to forced delivery by trash newspapers in the city.
Links
FAQs about the editorial content of the Telemarketing Scum Page

(link for email harvesting bots)
This page consists of editorial opinion and does not represent legal information or legal advise. Of course, why would you be on the Web if you were looking for legal advise? (And on something called "The Telemarketing Scum Page?") This page focuses on outward telemarketing by organizations using predictive dialing equipment.

Thank you for visiting.




Federal Telemarketing Rule (US)

The list is active, and can be reached at the following links:

Signing Up for the Federal "Do Not Call" List (US)

The list is effective in reducing calls. Signing onto the list will not generate additional calls. The list accepts residential phones and cellular phones.

This can be done on-line or via an 800 number. The on-line technique requires an email address. This is used for a "challenge-response" procedure, so use a valid email address. It will not put you on a spam list and the email address is not saved.

Here's the link. (www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx)

Information on the Federal "Do Not Call" List (US)

The several links here include both the FTC and FCC, but there is one Federal list.
www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx

FTC 'Do Not Call' logo a target="new" href="http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2002/12/donotcall.htm">FTC Announcement
The "Do Not Call" List was to begin July-'03, but actually went on-line 27-June. 10 million people signed up that weekend!
FTC "donotcall" homepage (original link!, but now at donotcall.gov/ )
FCC link to the same thing
Registro Nacional "No Llame" la Regulacin de Ventas de Telemercadeo - de FTC en Español
(Yahoo - Reuters Story)

Please visit Late Breaking Information for details of the implementation. Details, including a list of Congressmen who Voted Against Enablement is at telemarketing_votes.html



SUMMARY

The new Federal rule:
  1. Established a national "Do Not Call" list
  2. Limits abandoned calls (hanging up on victims), and "dead air" hold time
  3. Requires Caller-ID information
  4. Has meaningful fines ($11,000 per violation is described.)

The latest information is that telescum will be moving their operations to making "colorable" claims to one of the exceptions:

1.   Existing business relationship
Keep at least one telescum-friendly number in you wallet! My favourite is a payphone number, but there are others. Recently, I've been getting requests for my phone number about once a fortnight, and I like to be obliging.
Until the government goes after these people, the best strategy is to provide them with bogus "home phone number" information. Best strategy is to identify one or two pay phones. Here are the types of phone numbers:
Payphones
(anti-telescum 'positive') - The advantages are that people may enjoy answering a telescum call on them and predictive dialers don't parse them out (if they ring through). list of payphones here or search for <payphone list>. Keep a couple of these numbers in your wallet!

Pacific Island phone numbers and Caribbean numbers in the North American Numbering Plan
(anti-telescum 'positive') - These are overseas calls that don't require the telescum to dial a country code. They just place the call, get an answering machine at a real Tiki bar, and keep trying.

Fax machines
(anti-telescum 'neutral') - A fax machine call won't go through, but predictive dialers quickly sort these out. I use them for businesses which I think are using a phone number as a personal identifier.

Business phones with Voicemail Hell
(anti-telescum 'neutral') - Predictive dialers will usually parse them out because of the long introductory message, and so an operator will never hear them.

Special voicemail lines
(anti-telescum 'slightly positive') - These include pager lines, business "back door" lines, voicemail access numbers, etc., most of which have very short introductory messages. If the line has a short introductory message ("Enter your mailbox code"), a predictive dialer will treat this as a live person and hand the call off to a live operator.

Important The "Existing Business Exception" is being used as an excuse to call people who make any call to a business. Until the Feds fine one of these operations $11,000 per call, expect this to be exploited.
Use caller ID blocking.
If you don't have automatic caller ID blocking, get it.

Call "800" numbers from an office phone.

For calls to "800" numbers, tell them "Place me ON your 'Do Not Call' list." and act like you're recording their name on the computer.

More information is already on A Fun Lunchtime Project - to get off some of their targeted phone lists

2.   Intrastate Calls (in-state telemarketers)
This turned out to be a non-starter. is a second big loophole. In states with state "Do Not Call" lists, it is doubtful if the telescum would bother, but several states still do not have "Do Not Call" lists. More significantly, Federal jurisdiction still applies to in-state telephone calls.

3.   Charities
now more than ever run; don't walk from charities which use telescum. Whatever the cause, there are always groups which don't use telescum. (They are usually applying a higher percentage of your donation to their cause anyway.)

4.   (Political calls are also excepted, but it's hard to run a sales operation under the guise of politics.)
Usually they restrict their cold calling operations to surveys which make it difficult to identify the candidate. Nevertheless, if someone's stupid enough to campaign with telescum, you already know who to vote for!

If email spam is any guide, expect telemarketers to use various tricks to circumvent (or more likely defy) the law. Expect off-shore operations, more hidden identity, and fraudulent statements of your having "opted-in" to the call. Also, expect commercial calls "linked" to charities with statements like, "A "percentage" of our profits go to charity."

The FTC "donotcall" homepage is fairly simple to use. It requires a valid email address. The FCC uses it for their "challenge" response, so use a real email address that you intend to use. The email address is not given out. (If you are concerned about the opportunity for the Feds to collect your email address, then use a valid temporary or throw-away addy., but you need to actually retrieve the confirmation email.)

(Note: The "challenge" response is a long URL. Click on the URL when you get the email. If you get a "information is defective" message, then you have to assemble the long URL onto a single line, and try again. I think most browsers handle this automatically, however.)

RECOMMENDATION

If you live in a state with a "do not call" law
Definitely place your number on the Federal list.

If you live in a state with no "do not call" law or a pending law
The Federal list would still be beneficial to you. There has been no indication that telemarketers are abusing the list to collect numbers. To do so would be a direct violation of the law and for the most part would serve no useful purpose. Getting on the Federal list should substantially reduce calls.

... also ask your local state representatives why this loophole exists for your state!

If you don't know where you live
A totally inaccurate list of state DNC laws is at list.html .

The Federal list doesn't require name and address information (but uses valid email address data to enroll). If the state list requires name and address information, it is usually best to give "junk" data, unless you intend to file official complaints against violators.

It is safe to use your primary email address to sign onto the Federal list. Your email address is not saved and you will not receive spam from enrolling on the Federal list. (But they will send little black helicopters to spy on you if you sign up.)



Offshore Telemarketers

Offshore telemarketers are not really a problem. The "No Identity" section of this website had the unexpected effect of holding the telescums' clients liable for violations. Very few businesses will trust an offshore call center at the risk of $11,000 per violation fines.

RULEMAKING

Proposed Federal Rulemaking changes to modify the Federal Telemarketing Rule were dismissed by the FTC.

THE SUBJECT OF THE RULEMAKING

Changes in Telemarketing Rule Affecting Automated Recorded Calls
The comment period terminated 10 Jan 05, linked at www.regulations.gov/AGCY_FEDERALTRADECOMMISSION.cfm (Scroll to "Telemarketing Sales Rule")

ISSUES

The position advocated here was that "safe harbor" provisions can be clarified by requiring "specific consent" for all "safe harbor" calls. "Specific consent" is either an unambiguous request unrelated to another transaction. If the "request" is on a document for a different transaction or purpose, consent should be separately initialed (or another active selection performed by the targeted individual) solely granting consent. There is no other way the business can ascertain true customer consent. "Specific consent" cannot be conditional or "tied in" with any other transaction, and cannot be specific if special action is required of the targeted individual to avoid consent.

Any change in the Federal Telemarketing Rule related to exemptions should require "specific consent" by the targeted individual. This should particularly apply to automated recorded calls because of the perniciousness of such calls.

As mentioned, the proposal to change the Rule was dismissed, in part because telemarketers would be unlikely to obtain "specific consent" from their victims.



HOW TO COMPLAIN

Telemarketers help the economy -- all they need is your support in doing so. -- An $11,000 fine is a good place to start!

The specific circumstances for each call vary. Factors include:

  • Whether you are on a "do not call" list.
  • If you had previously requested that they do not call and you documented that request.
  • If their call (the sales portion of their call) fits within an exclusion
  • The cognizant enforcement agency

Since these are specific circumstances, I can't offer generic advise. Actually I can offer generic advise; just not good generic advise. But good instructions are found at the various Federal and State agencies concerned with the "do not call" lists. Links to the state lists are found at the federal donotcall.gov/ list.

I do have a simplified form for documenting calls, "do not call" requests and privacy requests.

the form (text file; can be use on wordprocessor)


Federal Telemarketing Rule (Canada)

According to Jypsy,
We just got a National Do Not Call List on Oct. 1st. (2008). https://www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/index-eng
For everything not covered by the DNCL, Poolitical Parties, Survey Companies, Charities etc, the Opt Out list was formed. http://ioptout.ca
Previously CRTC rules established lists for calls by that telemarketing organisation. Needless to say, with over 90,000 organisations qualified to make calls, this was a total joke.


INTERNATIONAL STATUS OUTSIDE OF NORTH AMERICA

STATUS IN EUROPE
A directive of European Convention on Human Rights requires Member States to make a choice between banning completely direct marketing calls to "subscribers" without their prior consent, or banning them only to "subscribers" who do not wish to receive such calls.

The UK took the later route and made compliance with the UK Corporate Telephone Preference Service mandatory. This apparently also applies to calls to businesses. The UK "Do Not Call  list is the Telephone Preference Service (TPS at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/)

Apparently companies who obtained your number through dealing with you (e.g. utility companies) can still use the information for their marketing purpose, but they are obliged to maintain lists of people who request not to be called.

From the TPS website:
Organisations with which you have an ongoing relationship, for example those who regard you as a customer, (or in the case of charities - a donor) may well gather your consent during the early stages of your relationship with them and will therefore be entitled to call you even if your number is registered on TPS, unless you have previously told them specifically that you object to them calling you for marketing purposes.
There is apparently not yet protection from SMS spam.
INDIA
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in May, 2005, submitted its report to the government relating to telephone directory enquiry services, describing privacy issue and a "do-not-call" registry, as in the US and Canada. Also in May, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is finalising its guidelines for banning banks from making unsolicited calls to prospective credit card customers. A few banks have already started working on a "do-not-call" registry.


ANDRE-TASCHA LAMME WHO MADE A MINI-HOBBY OF SUEING TELESCUM

Here's the link, killthecalls.com to Andre-Tascha Lamme who made a mini-hobby of sueing telescum. NPR reported that he collected about $6000 to partially defray his expense. The telescum called him "money-grubbing". Presumably nobody informed Mr. Lamme that these particular telescum are personally exempt from all state and Federal Do Not Call laws.

Apparently he received calls, mostly from mortgage refinance brokers who made the economic decision to ignore the Do Not Call laws because of the relatively high rate of return on successful sales. (As with all telescum "deals", if it really is attractive, just take that deal elsewhere.)

The profit from the exercise is nominal (highest award was $4500), but that's just the monetary award. As the Mastercharge ad says, "satisfaction from kicking a telescum in the b___s (bank accounts), Priceless."




Okay, back to the old stuff which I hadn't revised yet...

Why I Changed This Page ("What's New")

The old page was more of the "convince the caller you're crazy" sort of thing. This page is more focused on providing information; i.e., how to reduce the intrusion.

Two purposes of this website:

  1. To explain techniques for substantially reducing calls
  2. To focus on their economics


1.   The Economics

(Hanging up does not work.)

"We shut 'em up and then we shut 'em down." - Bruce Springsteen, Racing in the Street

Telemarketing, like prostitution, works if it is economical. The response of telemarketers to "just hang up" only facilitates the economy of telemarketing. Hanging up does not work. By hanging up, you let them spend only a nominal amount to interrupt your evening.

but.. Telemarketers are extremely cost sensitive. They need to complete as many calls as quickly as possible until one of their victims becomes a sales "hit."



2.   The Strategy

Increase their cost of making that call to the point where it's uneconomical.

Take the philosophy of SuSE (a Linux distribution firm) -- "Have a lot of fun." Try to find out what keeps them on the line and think of ways they can be discouraged. But most of all, make a game of it and have fun!



3.   What to Do - get blacklisted !!

(Most of this stuff is easy!)

There are four ways to get blacklisted. (Details below)

1.   Become a legal nuisance.
This is impractical for most people. Businesses almost always give litigious people superior service and treat them with respect. Unfortunately it takes considerable dedication to win. So on to the other three..
2.   Be a "non-cooperative" target.
Not irate (that's cooperating!), but:
  • Consume time.
  • (Carefully) make defective transactions.
  • Discuss their labour issues.
3.   High tech blacklisting
4.   Staying off their lists

    The Easiest Method
Just screen calls, using Caller ID. "Unavailable" indicates T-1 lines, used by most telescum. T-1 lines are also used by others, but that's what answering machines are for.

From Diane G.:

I have caller id and screen my calls - almost all unwanted sales calls come up as something like "unavailable" or "no caller id," so I don't pick them up. I also rarely pick up calls whose phone numbers I don't recognize. After awhile, friends and family know to identify themselves and give you time to pick up. I don't know why more people don't do this. If they did, it would make telemarketing obsolete. The unwanted calls, just rings, actually, get fewer and fewer. I just ignore the rings.

You need either a real answering machine or caller ID for this to work.

Note that "restricted" calls are usually private lines (friends) and telescum generally stay within legal harassment hours. You really don't need caller ID for this, but then you'd have to let all calls go through the answering machine.



4.   Details of The Four Ways to Get Blacklisted

See the "quicklist" (abbreviated cheatsheet>. The "quicklist" does not have the elaborate techniques, but is a printer-friendly list of things to do.
1.   Become a legal nuisance.
As mentioned above, forget it unless you want to make a major hobby of it.
2.   Be a "non-cooperative" target.
Not irate (that's cooperating!), but
  • Consume time (see "Consume Time" below.)
  • (Carefully) make defective transactions.
  • Get an anti-slam block for your phone service. Then your long distance phone service cannot be switched without your requesting it directly with the local phone company. The telemarketing company may even have to pay commission for a "dud" sale. But be careful not to accept contracts (such as long distance plans) with minimum fees.
  • Terminal hold - The person in charge (who is very interested) needs to come in from the garage. "You won't hang up on her, will you?"
  • Consume more time.
  • Discuss their labour issues, including pay, how long the average person works there, what happens to those who complain, minimum wage laws, reporting illegal activities after they quit.
  • Be aware of automatic blacklisting. (You want that!)
3.   High tech blacklisting
"High tech" because it involves manipulating their sophisticated predictive dialers. This includes:
  • non-standard answering machine messages
  • Refusing to repeat "hello" after a pause. - Repeat "hellos" help their predictive dialers.

    Many predictive dialers will regard a single "hello" as a failed call! Expect 2 or 3 successive attempts, followed by the company deeming your number "invalid". (Usually these attempts are on an hourly or daily schedule.)

  • Anything else that interferes with call progress detection.

4.   Staying off their lists
  1. No Information
    • Try to do "800" dialing from something other than a home telephone. If it says, "dial from home," don't!

      (note: Use a payphone for special "confirm" receipt of a credit card sounds good but doesn't really work. If you must use a payphone for receipt confirmation, expect to verify your identity a few days later in order to have your purchase approved. Fortunately, you'll probably be at someone's business location when that happens.)

    • Don't answer surveys. (Better yet, answer them, but give bogus information, like a pay phone that accepts incoming calls, or a Pacific Island phone number.)
    • Don't give telephone or address information when making ordinary "carry-out" purchases.
    • Don't give home numbers when making any purchases.
    • Keep your home phone number off of standard lists.
      Look for original sources of your personal data.
      Typically these are insurance companies, utilities and creditors. If you find some original source has your number in their database, update their information with inaccurate information. Inaccurate information is the most efficient way to make your number "disappear" from their lists.
      Call anyone who keeps a record of your home phone number. "Update" their lists by giving them a fax number (or whatever). Give them a "work" phone number (even if it's your home number) so they can reach you if the need arises. (Include an extension, such as 202-123-4567 x12, so your number doesn't end up on a predictive dialing queue anyway.) Original sources include:
      health insurers
      other insurers
      utilities
      credit card companies
      the phone company (oops!)
      one clue that you're on a list: you'll either get a request to confirm your phone number or what they refer to as a "courtesy call". If you get one of these "courtesy calls", call back later and "update" their information.
  2. Misinformation
    • In general it doesn't hurt to give bad statistical data! Do you want to live in a statistical world?
    • Give fax numbers to businesses collecting phone numbers. (You may also wish to give a bona-fida number as a "work" number if you think they really may need to reach you.)
    • better yet.. - Keep a couple of working pay phone numbers in your wallet for the purpose. (Many don't receive calls, so you need to verify them with a cellphone.)
    • Give absurd data when filling out forms for Customer Tracking Cards (mostly provided by low-end supermarkets). Obtain multiple cards (to further reduce the quality of the data). Give bad address data, even if they claim to have an "opt-out" mailing list. I get unbased requests for my phone number about once a fortnight. I hope someone at the 69th St. Terminal is answering all of my calls for me on the payphones there!


5.   How Automatic Blacklisting Works

Automatic blacklisting is the systematic removal of troublesome phone numbers from lists of valid numbers used by telemarketers.
What is it?
If a number repeatedly shows up as troublesome, the number is removed from a list of valid numbers. "Troublesome" numbers cost too much in line usage, equipment usage, and labour costs.
Most of these are simply bad numbers; e.g., disconnected lines, data lines, and businesses on residential lists.
"Invalid" Numbers
If your number consistently shows up as a non-working number, it will be deleted. This is one reason to not answer ("hello") more than once per call. See also www.scn.org/~bk269/bug.html for nonstandard answering machine messages.
It turns out that a large percentage (perhaps a majority) of the flunkies will record such a call as a bad number. Obviously their victim probably already answered the phone; it's just that it takes logical reasoning to figure this one out. That basic level of intelligence is not a requirement for the job. My favourite is one half notch on the evolutionary scale -- a mystified "hello""
"Bad" Victims
Troublesome victims are first placed on a "call again" queue. So theoretically, you would get repeated calls for the same campaign. BUT after a few of these calls, the number is flagged for removal from their master lists. Usually two or three calls is all it takes. An example of "troublesome" is keeping the telemarketer on the line for a long time. (As far as I can tell the callers aren't aware of this. They just figure you get called repeatedly.)

The flunky is typically told by the telemarketing company that these numbers will be called back. This is generally true but...
After a few attempts the number is automatically flagged as "invalid". i.e., the number is automatically blacklisted by that telemarketing company!




6.   Summary of Things to Do

Screen suspect calls
... using a real answering machine or caller ID. See above.
Get a telephone anti-slam block
This permits you to go through all of the motions of accepting a long distance service plan and not get the plan. Then make sure you select a "no-fee  no-minimum" plan.
Don't say "hello" more than once.
Their call progress detection equipment partly depends on frustrated victims answering multiple times during the pause.
Consume time.
Try to consume as much time as possible, provided it is convenient to you. The idea is to get your number blacklisted. See Consuming Time, below.
Experiment
Try to see what happens, for example, if you ask not to be recorded. (in-state telemarketing calls)
A suggestion from SuSE Linux Software:
Have a lot of FUN!



7. FRCA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) and Marketing

The FRCA (US) provides for an "opt out" procedure for the purpose of blocking credit reporting agencies from releasing marketing data. This consists of a single 800 (actually 888) phone number for the three major agencies.

To "opt out", call the Tri-Merge number for "opting out" of release of marketing information by the credit reporting industry.
1-888-567-8688 . This "opt out" procedure must be renewed every two years, so it makes sense to call about once a year.

Here's a computer-friendly documentation form for documenting calls, "do not call" requests and privacy requests.



8.   Consume Time!

Show Interest
Their strategies are to hit as many victims as possible until they get a sale. They won't waste 20 minutes on someone who is obviously just consuming time.

Some of the more "profitable" operations actually encourage their operators to spend time with their "marks". This works to your advantage as well, because if you show enough interest in their product or service (lack of service), they will help you waste their time.

Terminal Hold
"But you know the last time he came in from the garage, the telemarketer hung up on him. You won't do that, will you?"
Terminal Hold
Put the caller on hold, but show an interest in the product first. Return to the phone often until you are finished, so they don't wonder if you forgot about them.
Don't "feel sorry" for the organization after keeping them on hold. They obviously never made an attempt to limit their calls to those who requested such calls.
Give Up
Put the caller on hold and leave - if you don't have time for further action.
TALK
Talk about whatever is on your mind. This works best if you are able to continue what you are doing (cooking, computer, etc.) when the caller strikes.
Ask Questions
(Same as above, but ask about every detail of the product you can think of.) Warranty details, materials, what happens to the waste. Anything.
Involve the Family
Teach your 5 year old how to talk on the phone. It's fun for the kid and entertaining for the caller. Teacher wants to prescribe Ritalin? Try Telephone Therapy instead.
Slow 'em Down
"Speaka only small English. Please to talk very slowly." But wait until they believe you're interested. Otherwise, "no speaka English" is an immediate tipoff for them to move to the next call.
"Please talk louder"
Keep phone far from mouth. Don't be insistent that the caller talk louder until after you show a firm interest in their product. The requests to talk louder must be repeated often because the caller realizes he/she is interfering with others in the boiler room.
A side effect is that the caller will likely adjust the receive volume on the phone to hear you. If you later speak up, you will come in LOUD AND CLEAR.
If you like the pitch
see if someone else will match the deal and buy from them instead. But ask lots of questions first.
Have FUN
keep score with The Official Point System


9.   What Not to Do

Don't be obscene or offensive.
The caller doesn't really care and it tips them off to go on to the next victim. Besides, you need to get them to spout obscenities. The caller, like other prostitutes, is usually a pawn, hired by the telemarketing organization. It's the organization that targeted you. Keep the telemarketer on the line longer, at the expense of their organization.

Actually, despite the fact that the person calling you doesn't give a rat's (whatever) about their "marks" (you!) and are often liars, they aren't the enemy. Ultimately, it's their employer and the scum who use telemarketing services that targeted you.

Confidentiality
Don't give any credit or other confidential information to someone who calls on the phone. Some criminals use telemarketing techniques to get information for theft purposes. Actually it helps if you give them the information they request, provided it's incorrect!

(not much of a "don't" here, but...) Don't give them a hard time at first
The first thing to do is show interest. Then they'll gladly spend time on your call, which is what they're paid for.


10.   Automated Calls

These are illegal in many areas, but the law doesn't seem to stop them. Mechanized calls are now being used to vet "good" numbers by "war dialing" (scan) entire exchanges.
Expect a "please press 1 if interested." followed by a pause, followed by "We're sorry, but all of our operators are busy. We will try to reach you later."

Since mechanized telemarketing calls are rarely used for quasi-legal purposes, the subject is addressed on a separate page. (posted 16 Oct 02)


11.   Charities

I suppose that, "the means justify the ends. We're having a hard time raising money, so let's resort to telemarketing."

Listen to their spiel, and explain that this is interesting, but the only problem is that you make it a practice to never support organizations which resort to telemarketing practices. Your money will go elsewhere. Also, ask details of how the telemarketing operation is compensated and who, in the charity itself, would be a contact.

I had one professional solicitor ask me if I intend to punish the charity for calling. "That's right. I'll give my money to someone else."

Remember, it's not uncommon for the sleezeball charity to get 25 cents on the dollar generated by telemarketers.

comment: sleezyness of charities' use of telemarketing.




12.   Phone Tactics used by Telemarketers

Repeat Naming ("signifying")
This intimidation tactic varies, but a favorite tactic is repeatedly calling your name. It's not enough that they are disturbing you -- they have to make sure your attention doesn't wane. Discussion at Telescum "Repeat Naming" or Signifying Tactics

No Identity (Identifying only their clients)
With the advent of the new telecommunications law, the slimier operations have taken to avoiding giving their identity. You should always know with whom you are doing business. The scum are working for a telemarketing company which is legally an agent.
Always ask "who are you working for?" followed by "who is your employer?" When you still get bullschidt answers (you will), immediately ask to speak with a supervisor.
Explain that you fully expect honesty from anyone you do business with. "Who is your employer?" is totally unambiguous in its meaning. You know the identity of a realtor and a broker, and expect at least the same of a 'business' who approaches you.

Let others know to always identify the calling company prior to talking, even if they will eventually purchase the product.
or take it one step further.
Asking Permission to Call Back
Usually this is used with solicitations to businesses. Ask how to be added to their "Do Not Call" list.
Surveys
There seems to be a group of businesses attempting to secure information to be used for telemarketing lists. If you suspect this, you want to do what you can to make it crystal clear that your number should be blacklisted!
Acting Offended
Usually it's an act, but simply ask what they do to determine who wishes to receive unsolicited phone calls.
Taping
Not intended as an intimidation tactic, but you can detect this. See scripts for detailed responses if you have a fax machine which detects their (illegally muted) beeps. See illegal_taping.html for technical explanation.

Taping may also be deceitfully used to obtain consent from disguised "approval" questions. (e.g., "Okay?")



13.   A Word of Caution About Some Tactics

Giving the Wrong Address
It is not recommended that you order products for delivery to a fictitious address. If you list your phone number in the phone book with your address, it's a simple step to look you up in a "reverse directory". In any case, the telemarketer could attempt to locate you and then attempt to charge you. If the product is a newspaper subscription sent to a shelter, you may not object to paying if caught, but be careful.
Accepting Obligations
Some telemarketers state obligations for missed appointments or the like. At that point, cancel the order (even though you wouldn't make it anyway) and indicate that you don't want to do business with them because of their punitive attitude toward customers.
When Accepting Long Distance Calling Plans
If you have an anti-slam block, be careful not to accept a long distance plan with a monthly charge or minimum charge. (I don't have minimums with my actual carriers either.)

14.   Requesting "Do Not Call"

The idea was to be "added" to a "Do Not Call" list. Now this is superseded by the advent of a national "Do Not Call" list. Still if you have a business relationship, with the telescum's client, you need to get on their "Do Not Call" list.

Red Tape
Ask to be provided with a copy of the sponsor's do-not-call list policy. Then ask to be placed on (not off!) both the sponsor's do-not-call list and ask for a written confirmation of this. You also might ask to be on the telemarketing company's do-not-call list, but it's easier to get blacklisted. For details, see Putting An End To Telephone Solicitations which includes a form to keep records of such requests.
A modified form is available at this site and addresses attempts by telemarketing operations to disguise their identity.

Most corporations don't especially appreciate their vendors and sales departments creating legal trouble. Here are instructions on getting the attention of the legal department of a large corporation.


15.   State "Do Not Call" Lists

Several US states have compiled "Do Not Call" lists. These are "opt out" lists of phone numbers that are not supposed to be called. These seem to be working, especially where enforced by state authorities. Missouri has shown me why telescum tend to stay away from there.

If you do subscribe to these lists, make sure you do not include correct matching name and address information!


16.   Keeping Their Numbers

If you have the time and patience, add a PDA "memo" entry for a list of phone numbers of businesses which may collect phone numbers. So if the supermarket or department store asks for a home phone number, you can give them one of their own numbers. Or just look over and see what their local number is. Of course if you find they use the number as an account identifier, you can update the information (with your favorite payphone or fax number).

Better yet, just use numbers of a few pay phone that accept incoming calls. Or be creative and provide a Pacific Island phone number or Caribbean number which have area codes dialed in the North American Numbering Plan.


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site first posted November 3, 1996 ~~ rev February 9, 2013 ~~ written in WordPerfect 5.1 ~~ copyright 1996, 2001, 2007 by S. Protigal ~~ Feel free to link to this.