By Celeste Lohrenz
If you were stuck at home for the past several months, like many of us, you may have noticed a lot of calls between 8am and 9pm. Those are the hours when legitimate telemarketers are allowed to place their marketing and sales calls. Normally, you would have just deleted them from your answering machine, but if you’ve been at home, you probably became much more aware of them.
The calls might come from any number of businesses looking to sell you their products and services. They might be companies you have done business with in the past, or others that have acquired phone lists from another organization. Regardless, they can become annoying quickly, and you’re not alone in feeling that way. Unwanted calls are the top consumer complaint the FCC receives.
The good news is you can significantly reduce those solicitations by signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry. Basically, the Registry is a listing of phone numbers that legitimate marketers may not call, so adding your phone numbers should help get rid of at least some of those calls. With mobile numbers also starting to get into the marketing cycle a lot more, you can also add your cell phone to the list.
You probably can’t eliminate them all, though. Companies you’ve done business with in the past 18 months, or have requested information from, are still allowed to call you. But, you can always ask to be put on their internal Do Not Call list, which should do the trick. There are, however, other exceptions, too.
- Emergency notifications (like the COVID-19 updates you have gotten)
- Political calls (which are likely to increase in the months leading up to the presidential election)
- Debt collections
- Purely informational calls
The difference is that these organizations are not selling products or services, and are exempt from the Registry because they rely on phone calls to make sure information gets to people or to collect data or research. As with other businesses, though, you can always request most of these organizations put you on their own Do Not Call lists.
You can sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry online or by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the number you want to register. Your phone number will usually be added to the Registry the next day, but it might take up to a month for sales and marketing calls to stop, because companies are only required to check the Registry and update their records every 31 days. But, once you are on the Registry, your number won’t be removed unless you request it.
The bottom line is that, while you can’t eliminate all inbound calls from unknown sources, you can significantly reduce them.