Every day I get phone calls from numbers I don’t recognize to both my business line and my cell phone. Who are these annoying people and how did they get my number? In most cases, they purchased a list from another third party which you (unknowingly) gave permission to share your information with other third party vendors.
The national do not call registry can help with telemarketing calls to your home phone number and cell phone number. If you are listed on the do not call registry and the company calls your personal home line or cell phone, they can be looking at a fine of tens of thousands of dollars per incident.
Do not solicit list — don’t just ‘take me off the list.’ If you answer the call and it is one of these telemarketers, ask them to place you on the ‘do not solicit’ list. A common mistake is asking them to ‘take you off’ the list — it will not solve the problem. You are taken off that person’s list but not the dozens of others. If that company calls you after 31 days of registering on the do not call list you can complain to the website above — just keep a log of the company, time and date of the call, and the phone number.
Telemarketers calling your business. If you are being solicited on a business phone line, the rules are trickier. There isn’t a ‘do not call’ list for businesses, which makes it harder to field these calls. Here are some tips to dealing with telemarketers soliciting your business:
(1) Google the phone number. Enter the phone number and you will learn immediately who is calling you. One of my personal favorites is www.800notes.com, which allows its users to report about calls they receive from exact numbers, who called, and what they were asking.
(2) Block the number. Depending on your company’s phone system, you may be able to block any incoming calls from a specific number. iPhone users can easily block a number by clicking on the circled ‘i’ when you click on the number to get additional information. Virtual PBX systems like RingCentral.com also give you an option to block the number.
(3) Don’t Press “1” to be added to a ‘do not call list’ by a machine voice. Often times you will get a robo call, which is a computer calling your number. This robo is verifying that your number is valid. By answering the phone you are doing just that. Clicking ‘1’ does the same thing. I learned this the hard way — I have unsubscribed more times than I can count from one particular merchant yet I still get the same robo call.
(4) Pick up lines When a telemarketer is fishing for leads, they will ask open ended questions like ‘who is in charge of advertising,’ ‘may I speak to the owner,’ or ‘may I speak to the person respnsible for accounting.’ These are clear signs of intent to sell you something!
(5) Politicians are exempt. The do not call list does not apply to those seeking public office during election campaigns.
Door to Door and In-Person solicitors
If you are dealing with door to door solicitors that come to your home or place of business, your city or township can help you.
(1) Ask to see their permit. In most cities, a permit is required and issued by the city to vendors wishing to solicit door to door. (This doesn’t apply to girl scouts, politicians, snow shovelers or grass cutters, but it does to people selling windows, roofs, and other home repairs.)
(2) Nine times out of ten they will not have a permit. I have heard the excuse of ‘my boss has it,’ ‘I have it in my car that is parked down the street,’ or ‘my partner has it.’ If they can’t show you the permit, you can call your local city building and they will cite the solicitor if he doesn’t have a permit.
(3) Post ‘no soliciting’ on your door. This sign may or may not detract someone from coming to your door or trying to sell you advertising at your place of business. However, you can easily point to the words posted on your door and politely ask them to leave.
(4) City may have a do not solicit list of its own. Some cities will allow you to register for their own ‘do not solicit’ list for in-person solicitors. This goes back to the rule that door to door solicitors need that permit from the City.
(5) Be smart. Let’s face it, we live in a scary world. If you see a stranger at the door, you don’t need to answer. Make any scheduled appointments show their badges, work clothes with logo, etc before you invite them into your home.
Good luck! Remember it is always best to be polite, so be polite when you tell solicitors to back off and leave you alone!