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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

I have both my cell phone and home numbers listed on the Do Not Call registry. I get calls all the time; several times a day. The list of blocked numbers is insane!! Sometimes, just to have fun, I pick up the call without answering and put the speakerphone next to the TV (really loud). You can hear the person on the line: hello, hello...then they get tired an hang up. LOL

I believe the only solution to this problem is to hold the telephone services liable by law. They have the technology to deal with this problem but do not have any incentive to do so. If they do not have the technology at hand they are in the best position to develop what ever technology and procedures are required to end this. If they were fined every time a number on a DNC list was called they would find a solution damned fast.

Hey I hope someone here can help me. My mom had fell for the online scam where you are "paid"to take consumer surveys. And she used my phone mumber as part of the referral phone number and as her contact information. I have signed up for the donotcall registry and blocked several of these numbers through my phone and carrier. The problem I'm having is that they just call from another number through a VOIP service and it almost always has my local area code. And so I end up answering thinking it's someone I know. I'm afraid of identity theft and being tracked or hacked. I can't change my number because it's a business line. Please help me !

C'mon people. Why make a federal case of a phone call, really? Are we all snowflakes that we have to whine about the phone ringing? Just hang up !

Unless the telemarketer is trying to scam old ladies and others out of their hard earned money. The government should not be in the business of regulating free enterprise. After all, they didn't ban themselves from calling for donations for their elections.

missing my cellphone

I just found out today that it's illegal for these companies to call my cellphone. I do not have a home phone. The same telemarketers call me multiple times a day. I usually ignore the calls. About once every three months, they change numbers. I answer the number the first time, only to realize it's the same telemarketers. I've been on the registry, and block the numbers through my service provider when it happens, and it continues. Since they change numbers, I don't even know how to prove that they're doing it. So frustrating.

What is to prevent marketers from using the No Call List as their Call List?

It also seems incredibly convenient for them to just say "someone registered using your phone number" and then calling you as a 'previously established customer'.

So what is the premise for a DO NOT CALL list??? Serves no purpose as it was supposed to prevent telemarketing calls, etc. I get more telemarketers calling me now than I ever did previous and I have both my phone numbers on the list. The DO NOT CALL list turned out to be more government bs that sounded like the government actually doing something for the people. It is now a waste of time and money on the part of the taxpayers as I am sure there are massive departments in each state plus in thew federal government that handle the DO NOT CALL and they do absolutely nothing but log your complaint and tell you what you already know. This is usually the result of the government coming in and claiming they are here to help you. Don't bother, it already costs me enough in taxes for a government at every level that is bloated and inefficient and wasteful.

The Do Not Call Registry prohibits sales calls. After you register, you still may receive political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls, and telephone survey calls.

Scammers don't respect the Do Not Call list, and they will keep calling too, using technology. Internet powered phone systems make it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to display fake caller ID information, which helps them hide from law enforcement. The FTC has sued hundreds of companies and individuals who were responsible for placing unwanted calls, and has obtained over a billion dollars in judgments against violators.

Here's the most effective way I know of to deal with callers who do not honor donotcall.gov and do not honor your request to be added to their do not call list:

1) collect their caller ID, date and time of the call. Also take a screenshot from your phone.

2) Look up who the carrier for the number that called you. Google "phone number carrier lookup" to find a site that does this.

3) Once you have the number's carrier, contact the carrier either by email or web form or a call. Sometimes it's difficult to find the correct department to file the complaint, but make it clear you are not their customer but want to file a complaint against someone who is their customer and who is maliciously calling you. It sometimes takes sifting through 5 or 6 departments. It was very difficult for one of the massive carriers like Level 3. You can also find the names of the C-level executives of the carrier's company, find their contact information, and report the abuse directly to them. That will get action moving.

4) Demand they contact their customer and force them to comply with your request to be put on a do not call list. You are NOT asking who their customer is, they can't tell you that. You ARE asking them to contact their customer and deal with your complaint that their customer is abusively calling you. You can even state that you feel the abuse is threatening in nature if that is true. Don't go too far here, you want the person on the other end to help you! Do NOT threaten the carrier or their customer.

5) Provide them proof of the abuse - all the data from #1. It's especially helpful if you have examples of multiple calls.

If you do this for every spam call you get for 2-3 months, you WILL get fewer spam calls.

Glad heroic effort directed to the carrier has 'worked' for you, but is hardly what the average Joe has time/resolve for just to remove one miserable number from one offender's active list. The Do Not Call law was supposed to be a detterent when enacted, but clearly is not, even for violations within the US jurisdictions.

I've always have been a big believe in holding the Carrier or service that is selling these local US phone numbers to 'out of country telemarkers' be held accountable. WHY Cannot this happen? Why cannot the FCC report these complaints to the phone service companies? Also keep a list of which phone service companies have the most complaints? I bet you will find that this are small internet phone based companies that know they are selling these services to companies that violate the LAW!!! BY , YOU (the FCC) filing a complaint or copying the complaint to these phone service companies along with a some standard letter of subtle scrutiny that warn of future ongoing complaints could be a violation of contributory actions to assisting a company to violate the LAW!!! I would bet you, these internet based companies would be warning their clients or making sure they had the updated Do no call list warning them after so many complaints, they call no longer sell them service. Could this Happen????

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does share the phone numbers people report. Read this update for more details.

The FTC takes the phone numbers people complain about and releases them each business day. This helps telecommunications carriers and other industry partners that are working on call blocking solutions. Companies will be able to use this information to help identify which calls should be blocked or flagged. Even if a scammer fakes caller ID information — so the number you see isn’t the scammer’s real number — reporting it can make a difference. Call blocking technologies also can help prevent this kind of spoofed traffic.

You are all driving yourselves. The FTC is a disfunctional agency they accomplish NOTHING!!!

How am I supposed to sue a telemarketer if I can't get the company name? They just keep talking and don't pause to answer my question, or will dodge my question.

Just received another call from Card Services. Asked the guy if he wanted to speak with an investigator and he became irate and used profanity to the max! I recognized the number as one from my home town. And I really am a licensed P.I!

Here is a question we are all missing?

What are these losers trying to sell or say? Ive tried many different ways to let them have it, and its like they are professional minimum wage workers, because they always hang up before I can get any info or make their day just a little more hellish then it already is. Losers

when you receive unwanted calls keep a log with all info from the call. Date number time company and whatever else you get. When they keep calling back especially on you cell phone, tell them to quit calling. If they keep calling just keep writing them down. Once you have a huge list find a lawyer that specializes in these cases. I just read the other day that woman was awarded 250000 dollars from a company that kept calling her. Once you tell them to quit calling you each call s worth around 1500, I can't remember the exact amount.

On occasion I've answered a call saying, "Thank you for calling the National Do Not Call Registry." After a dumbfounded silence, the caller hangs up. I hope I don't get in trouble for this!

Fantastic post as well as great guidance! This article is very useful and helpful for us. Thanks for spreading valuable info.

I have been on the Do Not Call registry for some years now and I am still getting on want to call law for the last 7 months now I have been getting calls almost everyday from the same company the cause do not stop they are not robot calls I have put every single number that they have called from on the Do Not Call Registry and there is still no change I need to find out how can I file suit for this company

The do not call registry is a joke. When's the last time they went after anyone? I've been on the DNC list for years and I get about 20 spam calls a day. I keep reporting them but never hear back. Once again a government agency that does nothing. What a waste of money.

One of the problems I've found is that by spoofing the caller ID they make it look like a phone number for the same cell phone company. I had a lady call me and yelling at me saying she was on the dnc list and I'd better stop calling her. I didn't call her so they must have used my number, too. You can't tell a bot to stop calling you so I often press 1 to speak to a live person so I can waste their time pretending to be interested in what they're offering or if I don't have time to play I blow off an air horn and hope they have their headphones turned up. I wouldn't waste money on a call blocker because it's probably made by the ones doing the spamming. Until the phone companies get control over caller ID nothing is going to change. I stopped paying the phone company for caller ID. Maybe I could just get a job harassing people and get paid for it since nothing is done about it. I would also forget about these lawyers that claim they can get you money for submitting complaints to them.

There is a simple way to stop 90% of these unwanted calls. Make "spoofing" phone numbers illegal and require phone service providers to identify and block spoofed calls. If spammers have to reveal their actual numbers, they can be easily prosecuted for do-not-call violations. Most other remedies put the burden on consumers. But never forget that it is the phone companies themselves that profit most from all these spam calls. Do not believe for a second that they can't identify spoofed numbers. They are best positioned to prevent them, so make them do it. It works with email, and it can work with phones.

I have a caller I.D. phone & NEVER answer a call I don't recognize. If it's legit, callers will leave a message. (So far they haven't!) My answering machine only states the number they called & my phone company retains a list of ALL calls, date & time which I can access through my email account.

1-760-459-0008 MORTGAGE PREM
Telemarketing Spam violation of DO NOT CALL LIST
Asked them to remove me from their list but they don't do it. Never did. Call at least once daily. Lately they don't talk.

We've been getting calls about once a week on our land line from a man with an Indian accent asking about our computer. I've repeatedly asked him to stop calling. This morning he called shortly after 7 am. I answered it because our son recently underwent open heart surgery and thought there was an emergency. I got very stern with him and told him to lose my number and he told me he is going to call me every day at the same time in the morning. The number on my caller ID is 362-525-1457. FYI, I'm on the DNC list

Despite being on the Do Not Call List, which is a joke, I have hundreds of numbers going directly to a full voicemail so I don't have to bother with messages. I add about five numbers a day and keep my phone on priority only. It's the only defense I've found since the government won't do it's job.

Card Services is not exempt from the do not call list. They do have a reason to call, you have done business with them so therefore they are NOT exempt from calling....

If I know that a prospect is on a do not call list, but they call me, and I now have their phone number to call them back, can I call them back?

Telemarketers can get information about the Do Not Call Registry here.

Get a whistle-the kind football referees use. It works every time

Here's how to eliminate 90% of spam calls. (1) Make spoofing numbers illegal, (2) force phone service providers to ID and block any spoofed call (of course they can), and (3)arrest, prosecute, and jail violaters, who are now easy to trace. And please don't bother me with plans that put the burden on consumers to block these calls themselves somehow. It's the phone companies who are making the most money off of them. That's why they haven't already stopped this.

We've HAD IT! We get calls daily starting while we are having breakfast and lasting through the evening trying to sell is everything from insurance to security systems to warranty extensions to protection from the IRS and on and on. ENOUGH. Make these people stop - we tell them to stop and they continue. We have complained in the past but don't think companies or individuals are penalized enough to matter. HELP!

I got a call at 4:12 A.M. ON MARCH 13, 2018. FROM AN ALARM COMPANY 854-999-4907. WHAT....................CALLING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NITE. IDIOTS...CREEPS...WEIRDOS...ROTTERS

Wife receives mail offers from TD Bank. To opt out of the "prescreened" offers, instructions suggest calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT. I called the number and was asked for the SSN. This appears to be a major bank scamming people. It is really sad (outrageous) that you cannot trust a bank!

That is not a scam. 1-888-5-OPT-OUT is a toll-free number and website operated by the major consumer reporting companies. This FTC article tells more about it.

If you decide that you don't want to receive prescreened offers of credit and insurance, you can opt out of receiving them for five years or opt out of receiving them permanently. You can go to www.optoutprescreen.com or call  1-888-5-OPT-OUT.

To exercise your right to Opt-Out of offers of credit and insurance, you are to provide your:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth

This IS a SCAM!!!!!! NEVER give out your SSN to anyone!!!
I called these people and would NOT give my SSN unless they gave me their Tax ID#..They would not so why would I give them my SSN???
People I know who read this did what the person said and now ID theft, 10 fold increase in unlawful calls and the FTC DNCL is a farce!

Google really needs to get a handle on these robocallers, posing as reps of Google Business listings, telling you that you need to update your business listing. I get SLAMMED with these incessant calls DAILY at work!! I put our business number on the Do not call list, only to find out that IT DOSEN'T WORK FOR BUSINESS NUMBERS! This is total BS. I am interrupted DAILY with this crap

So many of these comments imply that the number on caller ID is legit. I have tried calling several back and they always are inactive numbers. We should require the phone companies to block calls with phony caller id's. DNC cannot track calls without an accurate ID.

This is the same issue I am having and have been stupidly reporting them for 3 weeks only to learn today that they say they cannot do anything with someone spoofing as the "technology" does not exist. I really don't believe this, and feel the phone service providers could stop it if they wanted, but why stop doing something that is profitable, they sell software, phone upgrades and apps, and have plenty of money to pad the pockets of the politicians!

I save all their numbers as Contacts in my phone. I give them all the contact-name of Idiot. As I don't know anyone whose name starts with I so it causes me no name search congestion. And, as soon as I see on Caller ID that an Idiot is calling me - I click to stop the ringing and put the phone away. BIMU ---------

I've been registered with the do not call register for years and loved it until 2017. Over 15 years ago(about 20)I eliminated almost all unwanted calls by using the register. The few that did get through once or twice a year or ever two years were quickly handled and never heard from again. Especially when they were informed of my do not call registration and the implications of what that means for them. In 2017 out of curiosity, I checked the registrar to verify my numbers were listed. I only did this because my second phone had received a few calls ( mostly wrong number type of calls.people leaving message for someone else) and eventually had to inform the calls that they had the wrong number. I check the do not call register to verify that I'd registered both numbers and they were not found. So I registered them again and that was the BIGGEST mistake I could have made it seems. I have some many companies calling me now on both phones. Telemarketers, alot of calls and hang-ups upon which if the number isn't caught in my spam then when I call back it is someone trying to sell something. But the all important one is they even call late at night. Now this is the main reason that I put my phone number on the do not call register years ago. (The law was .... Years ago that telemarketers or other agency could not call after a curtain hour. The companies or who ever would call a couple of minutes before the deadline and some would call even after the deadline. That was years ago. So now my question is
am I now open to these annoying phone calls again? Because the do not call register is not helping me. I want from no phone calls to I debate on whether or not i want to answer my phone when it rings.(imagine job hunting and this situation) ....since 2017

So I ask the question WHAT'S NEXT?

This is just one more thing I've notice that's changed in the last year alone that is not good for the people.

Ive been registered with the Donotcall.gov for years and lately, I've been bombarded by calls, and to add to this Real Estate Agents are calling me.
How is it, that they can have a telephone number that is not connected to an address, but they can access ALL our information, so that is nasty!! I believe the donotcall.gov doesn't work, as a matter of fact, if you check to see if your number is still active, your phone will begin to ring from the day after up and until the 31 days lapsed, and thereafter. So, whose scamming whom? You pay taxes to get help and they help the people who want to drive you nuts.
one number in phoenix Arizona is especially annoying 602-734-8759 .. just don't answer them, I have call display, They seem to want to call me until it drives me to answer the call, I want to find out WHERE this phone number is attached so that I can go there and have a good talking to them!! There isn't enough done about harrassing calls.
grrrr how do I do business with these fools calling here .. yes, I work from home.

I keep getting calls from this vehicle warranty place, but they are not always the same number.

I have filed 100 complaints. There's no way to stop the robo calls. Period!

For 2 1/2 months have tracked calls to my Do Not Call register phone. As of this minute 270+ calls in that time frame. Using caller ID we do not answer a number we do not recognize. Few leave a message, most must robo calls and/or use random number dialer. Caller ID seems to be a better solution than Do Not Call registration--still very annoying though.

I've reported a lot of unwanted telemarketing calls and have just expeienced a new twist. I was on the HARP Mortgage Quiz site to see what my mortgage payment would have been had I applied for that. I filled out my first name and my computer auto-filled my last name, my address, and a telephone number I had not long ago reported to the FTC for a Do Not Call Registry violation: 231-731-2221. That was scary. I did not submit the survey to HARP. How do I get that telephone number out of my computer's auto-fill feature?

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