A ‘versatile’ way to get around the Do Not Call list

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Some companies can be very sneaky these days. Especially when they buy lists of consumers’ phone numbers from companies that falsely claim those consumers had given written consent to get sales calls despite being on the National Do Not Call Registry.

According to an FTC settlement, Versatile Marketing Solutions (“VMS”), a seller of home security and monitoring systems, did just that. 

VMS bought phone numbers from “lead” generator companies that blasted illegal robocalls and fake home security survey calls to identify homeowners who didn’t already have a security system installed in their homes. VMS then called those people to sell them home security monitoring services despite two important facts: their phone numbers were on the National Do Not Call Registry, and none of them had given VMS written permission to call. VMS knew that the companies from whom it bought the phone numbers were engaged in illegal activity because, when VMS made their calls, many people responded that they had been contacted illegally. Despite numerous complaints, VMS continued to call these illegally generated leads, resulting in millions of unwanted calls to consumers on the National Do Not Call list. VMS also called people they had called before and who had asked not to be called in the future.   

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what to do:

  • File a complaint with the National Do Not Call Registry. If you get a sales call after your number has been on the list for 31 days, complain to www.donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222; it’s toll-free.  
  • If you answer a telemarketing call, don’t give out your personal or financial information. Treat your personal and financial information like cash. Don’t divulge information about whether you own your home, what you have in your home, alternate phone numbers, your birth date, social security number, or credit card or bank account information.
  • Hang up on any robocalls. If you answer a robocall, don’t respond to any automated instructions. In particular, don’t press any numbers, even if they say it is to get more information. Doing so may be taken as “consent” to use and sell your phone number to another company.
  • File a complaint with the FTC online or by calling 1-877-382-4357 or TTY 1-866-653-4261.

Comments

This is fantastic information! Thanks for making it available to FTC subscribers.
This explains why the 'callers' who are charlatans tell me that they have done 'nothing' illegal. And there are many times when it is the SAME person who has already called me several times.

Except that reporting these to the FTC doesn't work. I've been reporting the same company for nearly a year now and I'm still getting weekly calls from them. I can't get them to stop!!!!!

THE DNC DRMOCRATIC National Party has been send me daily e mails many times a day for three months. I have a letter from them stating they will stop. THEY HAVE BEEN TOLD TO STOP OVER RIGHTY TIMES. I BLOCK THRM THEY CHSNGE HOW THEY SEND MAIL. I WILL TESTIFY AGAINST THEM HAVE A LONG LIST OF DMC NAMES ETC. HRLP PLEASE

Unfortunately Tom K, calls from political organizations are exempt. Interesting how the clowns in DC made themselves exempt from the law which benefits us, eh?

Calls from political organizations are exempt from adhering to the No Call Registry. They are also exempt when formallyaking a request to the USPS to stop delivering solicitations & junk mai. Off the top of my head, my first suggestion would be to tell them when they call that no one in your household is legally able to vote! Perhaps, in time, they'll realize they are wasting their own precious time by calling you? Years ago, my company was involved in a union vote, and I began receiving 2-4 calls per day from reps at this Union. I finally told them that there was no doubt in my mind that I would absolutely be voting "YES" for the union and I since I wanted them to reach and convince as many employees as possible to also vote "yes", I'd like them to remove my name so they didn't waste anymore time making calls to someone who is already voting "yes." It took a couple of days & 6 or so more phone calls with me repeatedly saying the exact same thing for the calls to stop....But they did stop calling.

Can't you block e-mail you don't want? Or report it as junk? I don't answer phone calls from numbers I don't know. If it's someone who really wants to talk to me, they'll leave a message. If I get curious (number from my area code) I'll pick up but not say anything (robocalls are waiting for my voice before they start talking). NEVER talk to them or press ANY buttons ... unless you want more calls

I truly DOUBT that the DNC is really the perpetrator, because their time is limited, costs them money, and the last thing they want to do is alienate potential voters. I strongly recommend to you that both the phone number and the callers using it are fraudulent. Why would ANY political party want to alienate good will of potential voters.

Emails have nothing to do with the do not call list... FYI I get tons of junk mail from the GOP after just responding to one of those stupid internet surveys that they put out asking if we think the media is biased about poor 45... then they beg for money.

I 100% agree. Federal law says robo calls and telemarketers are subject to a $1500 fine EACH time they call a personal number that is on the Do Not Call List or the owner of the number has not given the robocaller EXPLICIT permission to call them. Filing a complaint with the FTC doesn't seem to stop particular robocallers that call from the same number. I'd like to see more info on the FTC's site on how to sue these companies in small claims court without the need for an attorney. If there is no "simple small claims court" process,perhaps the FTC should get a member of Congress on board from each state in order to write a Bill that would make it more simple to sue robocalling & telemarketing companies by allowing the court of jurisdiction to be in the county &/or state that received the call. There should also be a clear-cut, streamlined process for us to find out directly from the FTC the name of the individual or company to whom these phone numbers are registered. Even though the Federal Robocall Law passed and imposes a $1500 fine PER call, it did little to nothing to lessen the volume of bogus calls all of us get. The very few times I've ever seen companies being sued for placing these ILLEGAL unsolicited calls is via a class action lawsuit, and then the victims of the calls are definitely not receiving anything even close to the $1500 per call as the law states. The attorneys who bring the lawsuit get a .sum and they should, because if they didn't step up and represent the victims, the robocallers would face zero punishment. My issue with this is that they are breaking a Federal Law that includes a specified dollar amount (1500/call) of restitution that's to be paid to the victims. Since they're engaging in illegal activities, why isn't the FTC proactively bringing charges against some of these companies, having a court hearing and if found guilty, being made to pay the fines that are clearly in place? I would imagine that after a few telemarketers are bankrupted from the process, others will think long & hard before deciding to also break the law. That's my two cents.

What you say is and would be a fantastic solution. Do you know how to get a class action suit started on robots callers for health insurance and other telemarketers as well??

I get two robot calls a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Same recording about my Google Listing. Sometimes they feel especially mean and call at dinner time too. I report it to the don not call people most every day and still they keep coming. There really needs to be something the phone companies can do to stop them!!!!

Can you tell me why I have to disclose my SSN when I register for DO NOT CALL lists. I feel very uncomfortable about this. Do I have to? Karen

No! You never need to provide your SSN to register for the Do Not Call List. Visit donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you wish to register. On the website, you only need to provide an email address and phone number.

I just recently signed up and it asked for my ss# too and I gave it. I wonder if we signed up on a bogus site?

I just signed up and I didn't have to give my social security number. I would put a security watch on my credit.

You most certainly signed up on a bogus site! I just signed up yesterday and there was no mention of SS#. Actually, to register for the DNC list you can call FROM the phone you want put on the list 1-888-382-1222 and follow the prompts! Easiest way.

Yes, you just gave your SS# to the enemy. Better get some identity theft insurance. They are coming for you. ONLY use www.donotcall.gov You can see the web site name in the URL bar of your browser.

NEVER give out your SS number!!!!!! When I registered, I wasn't asked for my SS number. Sounds like a scam. If you did give your SS number contact the Social Security Administration in your area.

I receive so many calls from "Home Protection Technologies" on my cell phone and when I ask how they received my information they hang up.

BS, try to complain in the donotcal.gov registry, they ask you detailed information about the unsolicited call. NOTHING FUNCTIONS any longer in out country, sad!!

I got a statement request that I had to get notarized because the FTC wanted to take a company to court & wanted the reassurance that I would testify.
An update notice came that they plead guilty.

It does no good what so ever to have our numbers on the National NO CALL list as we are constantly bombarded with robo calls and telemarketers. They must know those laws are not being enforced. Why is this happening? Why doesn't this system work any longer?

Get on NOMOROBO -instructions are easy to follow, if you have difficulty contact them, they are very helpful. It definitely stops the robocalls. Phone rings once. You'll know it is a robaocall. Free Government sponsored if your carrier is onboard. www. nomorobo

Nomorobo only blocks about 1/3 of the calls. I still get between 20-50 calls per week!!! The FTC IS FRIGGING USELESS, btw. All they do, if they can even catch these crooks, is to "fine" them some money. Days later the crooks are back in business doing the EXACT SAME THING. I say: PUT THEM IN JAIL. Don't fine them, jail them. Maybe that will get them to stop...

Nothing stops robocalls. I have gotten (according to my phone's history list) some 57 calls from various numbers in the 856 area code, from the 812 exchange. All trying to sell me health screenings and insurance. I am on the Do Not Call list, have been on the Do Not Call list for several years, and even my provider won't block these calls, even after I went into my profile and entered the number to block! They still get through. I've had five calls today (8/13), beginning at 9:30am.

These robocallers are making money off of these scams, and they've paid congress lots of money to not do anything about it.

Fine them everything they've made in the last two years total, and then put them in jail. Unfortunately, nobody is going to make a law like this, as long as the phone companies keep buying congresscritters.

We're all screwed. And as long as we keep reelecting them, it will always be this way.

I've been getting calls from Resorts Unlimited for over a year. I've told them to take me off their list, I've hung up on them and reported them to you each time they call...and yet you do nothing about it. Your a farce as far as I'm concerned.

I and my husband am getting daily calls from companies trying to sell me an extended warranty for my car since February 2017 when the car was a year old!!!! We are tired of these calls! I was in sales and know the need to take and wash there list against the Do No Call Registry first before calling anyone. My first question to the person is did you check the National Do Not Call Registry? I’m on it. Your breaking the law by calling me. So they now try to pretend to to be Mazda calling and ask for my mileage on my car and I tell them if you were Mazda you would have that information since I bring my car to them for maintenance. Stop calling me!!! Please help my husband and I please!!!!!!

it don't work; never has; I get three or more calls a week; I ask them to stop; I file them with the DNC and nothing ever gets done; note nothing ever gets done...

What about political organizations that pass your email address from organization to organization?

Unfortunately charities and political organizations are exempt from the do-not-call law.

During election seasons I am forced to diconnect my land line from the wall. Way to many calls that I have no interest in. I know who I will vote for and I don't need to be questioned about my choices.

One Political 'Organization" Posted and sold my data for a political campaign that is 2 states away! And they still sell it! And it was a campaign for a Judge!
They should forfeit that exemption and not be allowed to use commercial Call Centers that use the list they get for to profit from the list that get from politicians! Both the politicians and the companies should have massive fines and not allowed to use this tactic ever again.
The politician are responsible for the Abuse and sharing of personal data and should require a licensed call center for their campaigns. Verified and inspected to prevent fraud or to finance political activities.
The common call centers give them special rates when they provide the Call List. Then they use them for illegal activities after the Campaigns ! That is Complicity in violating Federal Laws and they should removed from elections when they violate Federal laws. They do not have the right to violate our privacy for profit or savings using our personal information or sharing it with unregulated industries. Give me a list of Regulated Political Call Centers and I would not have to block them all, make them maintain privacy like the Medical Industry does with HIPPA Laws

I have been on the DNC registry since it began. I check regularly and make certain I am still on there.
When I get these Calls (A LOT!)I dont say anything, or hit any number. I just hang up.
I have filed innumerable complaints over the years. When you get 3 calls a day, and file a complaint on each one, and NOTHING ever gets done... what is the purpose? DNC does no good, and these same callers go on and on and on.
After I have been reporting these same calls for 8 years.. why should I waste my time anymore? it does no good.

DNL is only helping reduce calls from maybe 5-10% of legitimate businesses, the other 90%+ of the people calling you are a) illegal/fraudulent businesses or b) entities those DNL law do do apply e.g. government and charities. This is why we need to protect our own phone-lines with devices such as call blockers.

Exactly...over 10 years for me and no solutions from reporting the calls.

I have been registered with the DNC for a number of years now and I still get calls from telemarketers and scammers and it is really frustrating so now I just don't answer my phone if it comes up as an unknown number or blocked number. I figure if it is important then they will leave a message and then I will call them back if I know who the caller is and what it's about.

Like VMS, there are several others out there, including government agencies and charities that invade the privacy of US citizens every day. This is why consumers need to take control of their own phonelines using products such as call blockers. Call blockers are inexpensive devices that can block unwanted calls permanently. For example, in Amazon, there is a cheap call blocker device (e.g. T-Lock N2 version selling for $60) that can block up to 1,500 unwanted phone numbers -- this device has helped thousands of citizens protect themselves against companies like VMS.

Many people -- especially those of us on low fixed incomes -- do not consider $60 "inexpensive" -- particularly for a product we should not even NEED! Furthermore: (1) It's offensive to be FORCED to buy a device that's only purpose is to prevent OTHER people from breaking the law; (2) As a taxpayer, I am just as angry with the government for not doing its job cracking down on the lawbreakers who think they have a right to call me just because I own a phone; (3) We won't see any improvement in this situation as long as our own president is a lawbreaking businessman who only wanted his job to boost his own very over-inflated ego and to line his own family's already more than full pockets!!!

I understand that costs add up, but do you lock your car, your house? Why would you not protect your identity, security, or credit? Some of these callers are not from the U.S. and we wouldn't be able to track them down anyway. Also, don't click on unknown websites or links or enter information without verifying the source.

Bravo!

Your call blocker that can hold "up to 1,500 unwanted phone numbers" - that's a waste, because callers use computer generated random phone numbers, so there can be millions of fake numbers, and the callers do change numbers frequently.

What is needed is a "white list" enabler, where only approved numbers can call, but that is just as problematic because you will miss a lot of numbers that you would want to receive but are not on the list. You would have to rely on them leaving a voice mail so you could call back or they could be put on your white list.

I have fantasized about giving some telemarketer a dead relatives name and a fake credit card number - like one that is no longer in service.

Good luck to all - maybe we will resolve this problem, but probably not in my lifetime!
Art in Carlisle, PA USA

When I was worked at a telephone answering service that responded to infomercials we got pranksters all the time giving bad information or bogus credit card info. It happened so often that it just became part of what happened every day and we didn't bother getting upset about it. Sorry but your fantasy however compelling won't really hurt anybody at the phone center . They just shrug it off as part of a days work.

I DO GET ALL SORTS OF CALLS ROBO, I PRESSED 1 TO TELL CARD SERVICES ,AND I HAVE A SNAP SHOT I TOOK FROM THE CALLER ID . WHEN I PROCEDED TO TELL THE MAN I AM ON THE DO NOT CALL LIST WITH THE GOVERNMENT & THE STATES ATT. GEN. LIST HE YELLED AT ME 3 TIMES (SHUT UP ),I COULD NOT BELIVE WHAT I WAS HEARING ! I CALLED AND FILED A COMPLAINT WITH THE (FCC) I GET 3 TO 6 CALLS PER DAY BUT THIS GUY WAS THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMELS BACK ! WHEN I GET UNSOLICITED CALLS NON ROBO TELAMARKERTER CALLS I JUST TELL THEM I AM ON THE DO NOT CALL LIST , THEY HANG UP VERY QUICKLEY . BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW . THIS OTHER CRAZY CO. NOW I WILL MAKE THEM GET FINED FOR SAYING SUCH THINGS TO ME .

I am also on the Do Not Call list I've been getting calls from Card Services now for almost a year I tell them I'm on Do Not Call list I told him not to call me I tell them I can sue them two hours later they still call back this is been going on now for about a year with them they just will not stop I have made several complaints to the Do Not Call list also told them I'm tired or reporting it to them when they don't do anything about it either

You must be listening to Rachel from Card Member Services. She has many different phone numbers. I block each one and she continues to call.

Uh, you do know that "Rachel" is just a voice recognition computer call, and you aren't talking to a live person, right?

3/10/14 , 4:20 dinner time robo call , i pressed 1 to tell CARD SERVICES NO. ON CALLER ID 360-322-6687 ,I AM ON THE GOV. DO NOT CALL LIST HE SAID (SHUT UP) ,& I TOLD HIM I AM ALSO REGESTERED WITH THE PA. STATES ATT. GENRAL LIST TOO, HE YELLED (SHUT UP) AND (SHUT UP )AT ME AGAIN .I CALLED THE FCC TO REPORT THEM , I TOOK A SNAP SHOT WITH MY CELL PHONE OF THE CALLER ID TOO . I HOPE THEY GET A NICE FINE , THIS IS ABUSE ! I ALWAYS GET THESE CALLS , I TELL THEM I'M ON THE DO NOT CALL LIST AND THEY HANG UP QUICK , THIS MAN IS THE LAST STRAW IN MY BOOKS ! THE OTHERS ARE JUST ANNOING , THEY NEVER STOP , BUT AT LEAST THEY NEVER ABUSED ME LIKE THIS CRAZY MAN DID .

Xabier, thank you for posting the number here. I will add it to my list of fraud numbers linked to fraud so that people who buy the t-lock call blocker know about it!

I also get from 3-5 calls from credit services each week, also for time share sales. I have filed complaints but I notice that the numbers change each time, so there is no way that these people can be trapped. By the way I have gone the route of politely asking them not to call that I'm not a good lead (have no debt, have no timeshare), but still I get the calls. I have also tried putting them on terminal hold, still they call. I can not use a call block because I run a business out of my home and I cannot have my clients and prospects deterred in any way. Any help would be appreciated.

Buy a fax machine and have your clients reach you through a fax.Just a suggestion.

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