How to get rid of telemarketers -- or do business with them: Internet Scambusters #461
Telemarketers always seem to call at the worst possible time, and even then you can't get them off the line without being rude.
But the truth is that they mostly don't care about inconveniencing you, and they're so thick-skinned they don't care what you say to them either!
But sometimes they may be selling something you want and, if not, there's still an effective way of dealing with them, as we explain in this week's issue.
Let's get started...
Your Action Plan for Dealing with Telemarketers
This week we're back to the subject of how to deal with telemarketers.
As you'll recall, we've written about them before in our report How to Put a Stop to Telemarketing Harassment, focusing on how to get rid of telemarketing calls.
But there are also times when you might want to listen -- at least up to a point -- or you may want to provide guidance to others, especially some seniors, who just don't know how to get rid of telemarketers.
So we've put together a definitive 24-step guide on dealing with telemarketers' calls.
Keep these rules handy and pass a copy to anyone who might find them useful.
Before You Answer the Phone
1. Consider whether you want to be disturbed by a solicitor or scammer.
If you don't, use an answering machine to screen calls. Most telemarketers won't leave a message and even persistent ones will eventually give up.
You can even get a phone that enables you to switch off the volume so you won't hear them.
You can also use caller ID to identify telemarketers but, as we've previously reported in our report Scammers Can Now Use Fake Caller ID Number, that's not always reliable; it's possible to disguise or spoof the source of the call.
2. Be prepared to record the call. This could be as simple as having a pencil and pad but you might also consider using a recording device you switch on whenever you get a call.
If You Answer the Phone
Five things to know:
3. If there's a delay when you answer, it's an automated call, dialed by a computer, which then puts it through to one of the telemarketers, usually flashing your name up on screen, enabling them to sound like they know you.
4. If the caller tells you they're doing a survey, they're most likely not. It's just a disguised sales call. Same goes for if they say you've been selected for a special promotion in your area.
5. If they tell you you've won something, have an inheritance, or offer you a "great" investment opportunity, it's a scam.
Be wary also if they say they have free gifts for you, offer you travel club membership, or offer you a loan.
6. Never confirm your name to telemarketers, when they say, "Is this such-and-such?" Instead, ask them, "Who is this?"
7. Even if they tell you who they are, still don't confirm your name. Ask: "What is this about?"
You can also ask, "Is this a sales call?" but they'll probably say no.
If You're Not Interested
If you've heard enough to decide you don't want to proceed, take the following steps:
8. If you're pretty sure it's a scam, hang up -- as the scammer will likely try to continue talking. Don't speak to them and don't listen further.
9. If you don't think it's a scam and it's the first call from this person or organization, tell them you are not interested.
You can also hang up now if you wish, or move on to the next steps.
10. Ask for their full name, business name, address, phone number and on whose behalf they are calling.
Again, how the telemarketers answer this will give you further clues if it's a scam.
11. If you're still on the line, tell the caller: "As a courtesy, I have to let you know this call is being recorded."
12. If your number is on the national Do Not Call register and you have no existing relationship with them, or they're not a charity or political party, tell them you're on the register and they should not be calling you.
See our earlier report, The National Do Not Call List, on joining the Do Not Call register.
13. Regardless of #12 above, no matter who is calling (except a scammer, who you would have already hung up on), if you don't want them to call again, ask to be put on the organization's own Do Not Call list.
Yes, legitimate telemarketers do keep their own lists.
14. Also, if they're calling on another firm's behalf (which they most likely are), ask to be put on that firm's no-calls list also, and any other organizations for which this telemarketing firm works.
It's a long shot, but worth a try.
15. As part of these requests, ask the caller if they have any legal stuff they need to read to you in order to comply with your request.
Sometimes, telemarketers will ignore your request, claiming you didn't give them the chance to do this.
16. Don't allow telemarketers to talk over you while you make these requests. Tell them you insist they give you this information.
Whether they do or they don't agree to your requests, this is the point to politely say, "Thank you," and hang up.
17. If these people have called you before and ignored requests to stop telemarketing, and you have relevant information about them, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or the Do Not Call register.
It's okay to say at the end of the call (during point #16 above) that you intend to file a complaint, but don't say it in an angry or threatening way. Stay calm!
It's possible you could sue for harassment -- but that's something to discuss with an attorney. We can't advise on that.
If You Decide to Listen
Supposing the telemarketer has something to interest you and you're fairly sure it's not a scam, here's what to do:
18. Follow Rules #10 and #11 to gain comfort on proceeding.
19. If you have any doubts at this stage, tell them you would like to check them out and call them back.
If they bridle here, that's a red flag.
Still with us? Now you just listen to what's being said and follow these golden rules:
20. Avoid using the word "yes." Savvy telemarketers use all kinds of tricks, like asking "If someone was interested, does that sound like a good deal?"
Just say: "I won't be saying 'yes' to any of your questions, so don't ask. I'll just be listening."
When they pause and ask you a question, just reply, "Go on."
21. If you are interested in what they're selling, and you believe they're genuine, ask them to mail you more information.
Be wary -- you're giving out your address here.
22. Don't make a decision there and then, no matter how much pressure they exert (like saying the offer is only available if you agree now).
Don't even agree to a free trial.
Tell them you want to think it over. If they're honorable, they'll agree to that.
If they get aggressive, then you know this is a company you don't want to deal with; tell them you're no longer interested and hang up.
23. If you lose interest anyway, thank them, tell them you're not interested and ask them not to call you again.
Say this without stopping, as they'll try to argue, and then hang up.
If they call you back, go to #17 above.
24. Finally -- the most important thing of all: never give out your credit card or bank account details at this stage.
You can't be totally sure who you're talking to or how that information will be used.
A couple of final extra points:
Some people, especially seniors, are both easily taken in by telemarketers' calls and are just too polite to hang up.
If that's you, or you know others who may be so inclined, it's important to learn to be tough -- just like the telemarketers themselves are. They're uses to being cold-shouldered.
And second, if you feel you are being threatened or harassed to the point of despair by the same caller, tell the police.
Sorry this has been such a long haul, but telemarketing is a tough business and telemarketers are there only to scam or sell -- and make money from you.
You have to respond with equal firmness -- whether that's refusing to answer the phone, following the rules we've outlined, or contacting the police.
Only then can you beat the telemarketers at their own game!
Time to conclude for today -- have a great week!