You are here

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

Share this page

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

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.

I am receiving annoying calls from all these random numbers 313-483-8665, 415-466-2093, 725-265-9984,836-457-88197 (even a 11 digit number), 381-208-4624, I wished they would stop, they just wont.

There have been a number of successful lawsuits on this subject. A home improvement contractor for Sears called a woman who said "No, and please delete my name from your list." But they called her three more times. She filed a complaint, and the result was that Sears was fined a lot of money and the woman was awarded six figures for her aggravation! Hey, they can call me three times for that kind of money....

Six figure award for aggravation?? This is why America is so litigation-happy. Civil law proceedings can demand one party pay the other a compensatory figure in $'s that's commensurate with the loss suffered by the plaintiff. A punitive figure can be awarded as well. The smallest 6 figure amount is $100,000 and that's entirely out-of-line with the loss occasioned by the aggravation of 3 additional unwanted telephone calls. Stories like this usually exist after someone is overheard saying: "so-and-so should be awarded a 6 figure amount just for putting-up with that kind of aggravation" and soon afterwards, an urban myth is created and broadcast on the street and now, on the internet. It's difficult to imagine an established business like Sears resorting to repetitive nuisance calls--and if they did but they refused to acknowledge it and settle the dispute, surely their lawyers would anticipate a bad outcome--but no where near $100,000. If that kind of $ were available for 3 successive unwanted telephone calls anyone owning a listed telephone number would soon be a multiple millionaire.

Often times, large amounts of money in punitive damages are awarded in order to send a VERY STRONG message not only to the defendant, in this case,Sears, but more importantly,to the many other businesses that are engaging in the same or similar illegal practices. The majority of companies will actually sit up and pay attention when it hurts their bottom line.

I had to place my number back on the list here although I hadn't taken it off. Somehow it had been removed. I put it back because a tellemarketer for some power supplyer called and I hung up after I told her Im on both state and federal do not call regestry lists. She called up and said she can call anyway because she has a right to offer this discount and started to swear and threaten me. The number is 917)383-1019. from down south from the accent. What valgur and anoying behavour. I hope you nail them. I am going now to also report it to my state dnc reg. Thanks,I had recieved less calls since I firsst registered but strangly they started again. Please look into how my number was taken off.

I feel like there's no hope for stopping illegal callers who just use calling cards and throw away cell phones. I get a call at least once a day from someone telling me it's 'the last day to lower my interest payment.' It will never be the last day it seems. This has been going on for months. Now I am getting these same calls on my cell phone. When I start to say, "do not call..", the hang up. I looked up the number 714-551-6939 (and other numbers that have called me)on the White Page reverse call website, there are many others complaining about this same caller. I end up missing legitimate calls now because I don't know who to screen anymore.

Here are some strategies I use for scofflaws who ignore DNC:
-- Ask if they can hold for a minute, then set the phone down until they hang up.
-- Pretend I can't quite hear them so they speak louder and louder. No matter how loudly they yell, I tell them I can't quite hear them. This one can be a lot of fun.
-- Pretend to be interested, but when they ask for any kind of commitment or information, ask them to clarify, explain, give me more information, or just run it by my again. Repeat until they hang up.

I'm hard of hearing and cant understand what is being said on my phone, so I don't have any "minutes" phone plan, just data. But every once a while some telemarketer tries to call me. When that happens, I just pick up, yell/scream or blow a air horn or whatever, then hang up. It usually works. I guess they think they stumbled on a deranged individual or a murder in progress or something and don't want to be involved (especially if illegally calling). So far I've been really lucky that I very rarely get calls - but then again - I've kept the same phone number for many years. I recently got a video phone and the old number was used by somebody else

If you are on a data only plan, your cell phone service provider can block incoming/outgoing calls. If you get a new phone number or something else like your name changes on your mobile account, you may have to re-register on the do-not-call list.

My mother does this she has a rape whistle and she blows it in the phone for repeat callers --- hilarious! Me on the other hand I rarely get calls because I'm RUDE AS HELL and GIVE NO DAMNS! I'm completely over it stop calling me unless you want me to be mean to you and make you feel stupid--- this is a specialty I have perfected--- DO Not Call

Another fun thing is to interrupt the caller/robo and say "Can I just give you my credit card number?" When they say yes (and they will) give them a random 16 digit number starting with 4440, 4444 or 4456 - be sure to write it down along with a bogus name, address, exp date and security code in case they need you to repeat it. When they thank you, ask if you can give them another credit card number - give them a another fake number. This will go on and on for a while and can be quite fun - especially if you don't let them hang up because you keep giving them "money". Finally they'll be asking to get off the phone - don't let them. Yell that you are trying to give them money and you'll talk to their supervisor if he/she doesn't let you buy all you want!! This robs their time both on the phone and exhausting the fake numbers. If everybody did this it would shut down their whole system. If they genuinely believe you are giving them your private financial numbers/ passwords, etc. then they might give you their name and private dedicated phone number. If they do then post it on this thread and we'll have a ball with the poor shmuck.

Payback: I have Verizon FiOS. I can go online and block up to 10 numbers; helps some. The new thing I do is utilize the call forwarding feature; but SELECTIVE call forwarding. Take Card Services phone number, enter it as the phone number to forward the call to; and then enter the same phone number to 'forward calls from specific numbers"; what this does is forward the caller from that number, back to the caller! He he! BE SURE the radio button is checked for Forward Calls from Specific Numbers. Now... you can only do this with one number; or add up to 10 numbers to be forward to Card Services; who cares; keeps your phone from ringing.

This won't work if the caller's phone number is spoofed, as it usually is. It just leads to a number that is not in service. Also, as described elsewhere in these comments, telemarketers are now using the caller's phone number as the number that appears in the caller ID.

Bravo sphinxrb! I love your suggestion with the call forwarding! We've got Verizon too, but going to see if there's a way we can do that with our home phone. We get calls repeatedly and usually I simply don't answer, but now we have a great weapon to fight back with your idea! Gives new meaning to the phrase 'what comes around, goes around'.

Can't wait to start setting this up on my phone. Guess it's time to 'share' the love with those annoying calls!

Thanks again sphinxrb! Absolutely brilliant!

Another way to prevent the annoyance of these calls is to save the number to your contact list and then assign a "no ring" ringtone to the number. It doesn't stop them from calling, but you don't hear the calls. Peace, finally!

The FTC doesn't care about this at all. If they did, they would do the below.

1. Change penalties from civil to criminal for telemarketing violations.
2. Mandate that all telcos MUST have noborobo available for customers to use.
3. Mandate Implementation of anti-spoofing systems on all POTS and wireless carriers

With the NSA collecting so much data , I am sure they would be able to track this down in less than a month and have it fixed, but alas...we are the ones that are stuck with being harassed and it won't stop until the above is implemented and someone high up in the bureaucracy starts getting harassed on their personal line.

I think the FTC is making money by selling the phone numbers on the :do not call list" to any company that will pay their fee.

I got 5 calls from this company in May 2014; the lawsuit didn't work.

I have been receiving these calls for years. I started blowing a whistle in the phone on Card Services and it did help. However one day I received 13 calls, from the same guy,in a row each time blowing the whistle and that he was breaking the law. The most disturbing call from Card Services showed up on Caller ID from my home phone number. Today I told them that I was on DNCL and he told me it didn't apply to them because they worked for the banks who issued my credit cards and when I signed the contract I authorized them to call me. I sincerely hope he is wrong.

Here's the thing: registering your phone in the National Do Not Call Registry will stop most telemarketing calls, but not all.

Calls from or on behalf of political organizations, charities,and telephone surveyors would still be permitted, as would calls from companies with which you have an existing business relationship, or those to whom you’ve provided express agreement in writing to receive their calls. This is because of jurisdiction limitations of the FTC and the FCC. 

However, if you ask a company with which you have an existing business relationship to place your number on its own do-not-call list, it must honor your request. You should keep a record of the date you make the request ansd you can always report violations to the National Do Not Call Registry to the FTC.

I also received a call today that Caller ID showed as MY home phone!
It was a Robo-Call that we've received several times -- "Hello, this is Rachel/Heather, (this time it said Rachel) there is no emergency about your credit card, but you do need to call me immediately about a money-saving opportunity."

I hung up at this point, & called my carrier. YES, it IS illegal for any company to lie about their identity on Caller ID. (& robocalls are supposed to be illegal also.)
YES, there is very little that can actually be done once your # gets out there.

I complained that I have been getting many calls recently, despite being on the Do-Not-Call List since its inception, as well as having a private #. I check every few months to make sure our numbers are still there.

The main thing I learned is that your carrier has other lists they can be sure you have been either removed from or added to in order to make your # even more private.

It seems that the number of scams has risen drastically lately, all masquerading as legit. Most pretend to be "surveys" or a company you already do business with so it's legal to call.

I have noticed an increase in the # of strange Caller IDs -- things like "Unavailable 1" -- because I can't block a 1-digit phone number! FYI: Today this was the Microsoft scam.

Here is another #518-278-0333 for "card services". have been sworn at, hung up on. this # is listed to Hudson Communications, Clifton NY-they claim they no longer own this # and can not give out info. They are preying on the elderly here in Fl. My Mom is 83 with dementia, I can't stop her from answering these calls and she is always afraid she owes someone money. Have reported with "Do not call registry" laughable, have a call to Attorney General in NY and FL, again laughable, How do we stop this??? Our provider can only block local calls. Over this past year have received at least 500 phone calls!!!

When the exceptions "swallow the rule", the DNC List is no longer effective. Get a call blocker from Amazon, especially one that holds up to 1200 numbers. I know it is working when I hear one ring only, then silence. Dinner hour is now reclaimed !!! :-}

I've got the same thing and love It! It picks up so many unwanted callers I rarely pick-up the phone.

Does the FTC actually do anything? I have submitted dozens of complaints over the past two years and I still get just as many robocalls, illegal sales calls, etc. I've never been contacted by the FTC, and I get the same numbers calling me time after time, even after reporting them.

What does it take for the FTC to actually do something and act against a telemarketer? I am about to stop reporting them because I feel like my reports are going into a black hole since nothing ever happens.

What does it take for the FTC to actually do something and act against a telemarketer?

A political contribution from a rival telemarketer.
Suggestions to AARP to help us are more likely to have an impact.

I received a robo call yesterday from Rachael at Card Member Services. The uniqueness of this call was that it came from my own phone number (according to caller ID) to the same phone number (my phone number) I tried to report this to the FTC via their website but my complaint was not accepted because of the phone number discrepancy (numbers were the same) Number was obviously spoofed but the FTC website does not understand something that simple. My suggestion would be to work on your website so that it does accept unusual inputs and not only what it expects to receive. Maybe in another decade they will figure this out.

I to have been called by someone using my own phone number.

This SO CALLED "DO NOT CALL LIST" is not good enough. I want political calls stopped. Come on FTC get it done. Please!!!!!!!!

I also hate fakes, frauds, liars, scammers, illegal telemarketers etc. who loves them? well maybe their friends and family but most of the decent folk are sick of dealing with them. I am not suggesting anyone go as far as I have gone in chasing down the repeat call offenders for free. yes its the ftc job but they need help = we get the calls personally rarely does a scammer call the ftc trying to scam/annoy them. normally I just stay on phone til I drive scammer crazy and they hang-up. I just saved someone getting a call by wasting as much of scammers time as possible. while i also write info of whats said and trying to do a net search on number and anything they tell me. I have in the past put my own money at risk 1k and invested weeks in hunts to get correct address locations of illegal telemarketer organizations. even had dxxxx card fraud department(thankyou) help me in locking my card acct from any charges during a giving week but collect data on any request to access/charge on card to obtain info so I could give the ftc agent more info. i have upset a scammer so bad he left a nasty message on my answering machine and oops used his home phone in winterhaven. when i called the phone number back the next day his wife answered i said i received a call from this number and was wondering if it was a wrong number or was someone trying to reach me i use to live in sarasota bla bla chatting with her? it took a few minutes for her to realize the mistake and switch to playing company employee saying soanso was out of office but 1st few minutes of conversation had already blown that. so yes i sorta scam the scammers to obtain info. hey i didnt create the 1st contact they did. i regularly check incoming numbers, report fraud behavior and all around annoy them back. maybe some day there will be a dontwasteyourtime calling list scammers will share with each other and my number will be at the top. til then happy hunting dont be a victim be proactive.

Nothing works. Credit card company have even tried the numbers that show, they are never in service, they hang if if I tell them I owe nothing, and they hang up if I start to say I am on the Don't call list,. They call daily either to our home phone or to our cells.

I fail to understand why people get so worked up over a stupid no call list. The simple solution is not NOT ANSWER THE PHONE. If you don't recognize the number and/or no message was left, they probably had no good reason to call in the first place. I goo a step further and keep the ringer off at all times hence, no obnoxious ringing. Most people I know uinderstand this and email me and I love it.

I'm with you Crabby Milton...I also fail to understand how people expect scammers to follow the law and not call them because they are on the Do Not Call List. I don't answer calls that show up as "unknown", "unavailable" or any type of 800#.
If the phone is answered then the scammers are going to keep calling.

Some of us like me have 4 teen agers, and many potential clients who call our number, so we cant just stop our lives and our livelihood by turning off the ringer? Why should anyone have to do such a ridiculous thing? The reason people are all bent out of shape over the DNC is because it IS a joke and the calls are up ten fold these days. EVERY dy I get at least 12 calls from automated systems.

Crabby, maybe you have a life and a job that you can afford to do that. However, the many of us that are in a sales position that rely on our phones. Those unknown numbers just maybe a sales inquiry. If you do not answer they may just call someone else instead. Now i am constantly guessing with this next out of town is a telemarketer or a potential client! And, believe me i have guess wrong and either wasted my time or lost a sale!!!!!

I recieved a call concerning my credit card and caller ID number was my home phone number. I don't have any credit cards. Why is this allowed and how do they get away with it. I just hung up but concerned they can put fake numbers into caller IDs

I get 3 to 4 calls a day from mortgage companies, construction, companies, and energy companies. I even received several calls from a guy claiming to be from the Government. He had a grant for $9,000 and offered to deposit it into my bank account.
At first, I told the callers I was on the DNC and that I would be reporting the call. I received a lot of different responses, but there was one thing they had in common; they did not care. An owner of a construction company said he would NOT check the DNC list. It took too much time and limited the number of people he could call. If he did that, it would not be cost too much and would good for his business. He said the FTC is a joke. They do not do anything about people who violate the DNC rules. He can continue calling anyone he wants. The worst thing that could happen is he may get a call from someone at the FTC to “slap his hand” and tell him to stop or remove a single person from his list, but they would NOT change his practice.
I reported several of the calls I received, thinking the FTC would act on my complaints. I even spoke to them a few times. I called them after I received the call from the owner of the construction company who said the FTC was a joke and would not do anything.
I still get the same number of calls. The amount of times I wrote a formal complaint and called the FTC did not impact the number of calls I receive on a daily basis. The DNC worked in the beginning when everyone thought there would be a penalty from the FTC. Now it appears they only see it as a bluff, so the DNC appears to be fake and no longer works.
During my last conversation with the FTC, I was only advised not to speak to the callers, just hang up. That appears to be the only option. The complaints and calls to the FTC do not work. Now I just check the caller ID to see if I recognize the number. If I don't, I press one button to pick-up and immediately press another to disconnect the call.

Hey maybe we should use the call forward feature and have it sent to our Senator's office. Maybe when they get annoyed enough they will do something..... or not.

Now THAT is a great idea!

Ironic while reading these entries I revived yet another scam call. I get on average 5 scam calls a day. It's been going on for years. The do not call list does absolutely nothing. Think about it, scammers are practicing illegally to begin with, so obviously they don't follow the law to begin with. It is time for the government to step in and stop this. Stop allowing sales of temporary phone numbers, make phone companies liable for the use of their business, there are so many issues that need to be addressed here. I'm sick & tired of the invasion in our home through our phone. Thousands or millions of US citizens are tired of the same.
I'm not talking state by state laws, I'm talking federal offenses and put a stop to this. They are criminals and should be treated as such.

For several years after the DNC Registry initially started, the number of unwanted calls VASTLY decreased--basically to nil. Why? I can only believe that the fear of the FTC fines scared the would-be callers. Now that the telemarketers have realized there is a slim to no chance of getting fined by the FTC, they have begun calling. For me personally, it seems that I received less bogus call before the DNC Registry was ever available. I don't know why the FTC isn't enforcing and going after the many telemarketers that don't spoof their numbers and seem fairly easy to locate. It's a government funded agency and my best guess is the lack of funding would be the the official reason/excuse for not being able to pursue these telemarketers through the legal system. Law firms that handle Class Actions will occasionally take on robocalls/telemarketers but only if the company's valuation is large enough to be worth the firm's time and own money to pursue. Lime several others have stated, I don't answer if the number is not in my contact list, but in doing so, I have missed several important calls. Just like I can look out of my peephole to decide if I want to open/answer my front door, I think we need legislation requiring a name -individual or company- attached to the incoming phone number so that we can decide if we want to answer the call. As for spoofing apps, I can see the entertainment value they may provide, particularly for youngsters & possibly on April Fool's Day, but the havoc they are causing far outweighs any value. Therefore, I believe they should be banned OR in order to operate any type of spoofing services, then that company should be required to pay the state where they are registered a very large, annual, business registration fee in order to operate.

My calls have INCREASED since I went on the do not call list I report the violations for years. Still get the same calling people. Now, they block the number so I do not know who is calling.

The FCC is seemingly powerless against these calls. They do not hesitate to allow phone companies to charge more fees and taxes. They are owned by the providers and have nothing to do with consumer protection any longer.

As for the robocallers, I blast 'em with an air horn. I hate doing that to someone who probably can't get a better job, but sooner or later they talk to each other and will phase out your number.

I had a repeat caller who started asking me for dates! I changed my voice mail to say,"Hello, this is Station WBBB! You're on the air! Please speak your name clearly and state why you think you should be today's lucky winner! That stopped the calls.

What most of these calls are doing is forwarding your call to a call center to grab your call for what ever purpose? I will post a list of the numbers.

Very good post,thanks

Well DNClike I said before, if you don't recognize the number, then and they don't leave a message, then they didn't have a good reason to call. Sadly, you can't turn off you business phone so I'm only speaking of your personal phone. If you don't want to take my advice,just live with it or just hang up on anyone you don't know or want to talk to. BTW, keeping the ringer off at all times is great for annoying relatives too. :)

I told a telemarketer to put me on the do not call list, and he laughed and said the only way he won't call back is if I change my phone number. Why are we hostages to these creeps?

Pages

Leave a Comment