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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 finally was able to get the telemarketers to stop calling me by making a new greeting on my answering machine that has a long pause after I say “Hello".
What you have to do is say, “Hello” and then wait 2 seconds.
Then I say “I am sorry but we are unable to come to the phone right now, so after the tone would you please leave a message ".
The "Hello" with the long pause will cause their computers to think there is a live person on the phone and then it connects you to a real person - A phone solicitor.
Then after they hang up on you by pressing "Release" on their phones 2 or 3 times, their computer system will automatically take your number off of their auto dial list.
" Hello " ------ I am sorry but we are unable to come to the phone right now , so after the tone would you please leave a message ".
If everyone would do this the telemarketers will go out of business in a few weeks. The reason this will happen is because their computers dial hundreds of numbers at a time looking for someone to say Hello and now hundreds of answering machines will say Hello. :) 

Never works! Everyday, every hour, every week, every month, every year..same people, same numbers, same scams..I reported over 10,000 numbers in 2 years and NOT ONE was ever stopped.
Computer generated calls from non-working numbers abound but no FTC will do a thing!

If you use only a cell phone, just block contact after call.

I find this article typical government apathy. This is a load of crap in today's day & age you have nothing in place to stop this. I just received 5 phone calls in an hour time frame - all unsolicited phone calls. It is DAILY. And I'm so tired of it, I'm thinking about getting a dumb phone. HOW do I get off of this list that sold my cell phone illegally?? These people who did this and the companies that make these phone calls need to be shut down and criminally prosecuted. My phone is rendered useless because of the CONSTANT telemarketing phone calls.

I have all the same complaints as posted above. I get college loan debt and lower my visa interest calls. I block each and everyone of these callers. The id caller numbers are always from Az.
I did moved from Az over a year ago, and wondered if there is a connection. It is so frustrating.

The donotcall. nomocall, telephone server block unwanted calls. FCC complaint. FTC complaint all Govt' controlled does NOT work . Oxymoron.

This system seems to be the biggest joke i have even seen, i have placed my number on this system twice, still i get at a minumum 15 unwanted calls a day, i tried not pressing buttons as it states above, that does not stop them, i tried blocking numbers, they just roll over to another bot number.
I don't know about above praise for this system but it sure as hell has failed me, it seems this system is just another scam.

My family's cells and home numbers have been on the DO NOT CALL list since 2006 and we still get lots of calls.. I thought this was to stop all unwanted robotic/scamming/telemarketer calls?

I have been on the do not call since it started. I have renewed when I am told to do so. However, companies continue to call; when someone speaks to you in person, they inform you that they are out of your state and do not have to comply. If the government took this really seriously, the whole situation would be easier on citizens and govt. resources. When people complain as they are asked to do, there should be a substantial fine on the companies...no grace period. The offenders should pay fines to compensate for inconvenience of consumers. After all, we pay our phone bills and our phones are for our personal use. We are bombarded by unnecessary flyers in our mail boxes and on our properties. It takes time to empty our phone mail boxes and to discard papers you did not solicit. We need to keep in mind the process of making paper. The postal service could make a great deal of money by charging more for junk mails (a good deal more) stop giving them incentives. For those who don't know, there are equipments to detect spam callers and will auto block or allow you to block as necessary. We need one for emails, not just a blocker, but a return button where by you click the button and all unwanted mails are sent back in droves to the sender flooding them as they flood you. Wouldn't that be great? I know that the authorities could do better or just ask the "little" people , (meaning ordinary folks) we have the best ideas.

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. Read this FTC article about how to stop unsolicited mail.

I would on a few occasions get a spam call so I thought it would be a good idea to register on the Do Not Call list.
Now I am getting calls and texts so frequent it is beyond annoying. This morning alone I received 10! One right after the other like they were on some sort of speed dial. 8:23. 8:24 8:25...ect. all of them about health insurance. Yesterday it was about getting out of debt. And while I am typing this just got another.
My husband who didnt sign up isn't getting these calls or texts. WHAT THE HECK!

When we first registered with the do not call list, almost all calls ceased. Now we get between 6 - 8 a day, from morning until night. My husband and I are both ailing with serious illnesses, so these are more than a nuisance to us. They interrupt our rest times, and even sleep. We feel we have to answer, though, as our many doctors' calls to us come in from numbers we don't necessarily recognize, or say anonymous. We don't dare not answer, just in case. More than 75% of calls we receive are from these bogus callers. I really wish someone could do something. It is horrible to be pestered all day and evening, especially when you are ill.

Robo-Calls from: 877-316-5329 - Calls Everyday, Morning Noon and Night.. Never leaves messages.. They called one Sunday morning at 8 AM.. I blocked the number and still see Missed Calls from that number..

KWN. Apparently Kids Wish Network. A real charity although not well ranked in how much money actually goes to fulfilling it’s purpose, apparently. They call in groups of three’s. Every week. I consider this harassment. First thing in morning or last thing at night. I have blocked two different numbers so far. Several months so far.

From what I can see from reading these comments and my own personal experience is that being on the DNC list doesn't work. I have been on the list since 2010 and confirmed it many times. I get calls every day and texts several times a week. Reporting them does nothing. A call blocker is virtually useless also because of the number of phone numbers that can be blocked, the amount of numbers a call generator can produce is virtually infinate. As an example I got a robocall from MY PHONE NUMBER !!! The lady that sued Sears is the exception, not the norm.

How do the vendors get the lists of victims to annoy about back and knee braces paid for by Medicare? Multiple times every day, they annoy my mom until she is left in tears. At first, she would nicely ask not to be called (treating them like humans). She has reached point of yelling, and she's not a yeller. For the automated calls on the topic, she'd always push the button to be removed from list (ha!. )If she got $1 for all these calls, she'd be on a Caribbean vacation. Who gave them the victim list and how does she get off it? Why can't they take a hint?

I don't understand why the major carriers like at&t or Verizon aren't leading the way to do something about this problem? These unwanted calls put more unnecessary tolls on their networks. I would think the stock holders in these companies would demand reducing unnecessary expenses on their network. Reducing costs helps increase capitol.

I am 79 years old but get daily solicitations to help repay my college loan....? Also calls to advise me of opportunities to enhance my time share account. ( I finally was able to dump that time share over 10 years ago). And a daily call (sometimes two times a day) offering a lower credit card rate-this call from the same recording.
Good luck in getting off this merry-go-round. Nothing will be done until our politicians get the guts to get involved. Vote 'em out!

12028688880. this number keeps calling my house recording very annoying. everyday at least 6 times a day every day.

Call or write your Senator, all the Senators, your Congressmen and Women. Make them stop this!

I have had at least 10 calls from the Beto campaign and every single time have asked them to take me off the list. Someone really needs to do something!!!!!

When is the FTC actually going to do something TO the callers? It has been many years since the implementation of the Do Not Call List. I STILL get calls daily about healthcare plans and political stuff. This number has been on the list for at least 5 years. Have filed multiple complaints with the FTC over the years with the business names and their callback 800 numbers. Nothing changes. They just pop right back up with a different business name. Why is there a list if the FTC doesn't actually police it. These people should be in prison. Man up and get it done. On a side note, I recently logged into an old fax number that I used many years ago. It STILL receives dozens of daily spam faxes. Why is that a thing?!?! Decades ago you guys promised the public that your fine violators $50k fine per occurence. Nonsense.

Please do your jobs. We pay enough to get at least that much out of you. Annoyed.

I'm on the do not call list too, but get 4-5 calls a day. I have to get up at 4:15 am for work and go to bed early. Nothing irritates me more than getting late evening calls. And how can you turn them in when they spoof numbers, especially local ones? Once, my number called me!

Robo calls now spoof local numbers. I block the number and the same call comes in with a different number. If you try to call back, it's someone's unavailable cell number.

I don't know which is the most useless, the Do Not Call List, or the callers who use the "Do not Call List". I'm sure the Gov't folks who work for the "Do Not Call List" office (or bureau or agency or whatever) have great intentions and WANT to help, but it appears that the bad guys are becoming uncatchable... I've started calling back on rare occasions when I get calls from nearby local numbers; have had at least two say it's their cell number and they didn't call.

Of course, it's clear that a bad guy could do that whole scenario, making both the call and the denial, thus having had the shot at making some ill-gotten gains from me, and then the opportunity to plead innocence by lying.

Seems like we're danged if we do and danged if we don't.

I'd love to know if Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives us a way to know how many are being caught and having to pay ANYTHING of consequence.

And, again, I have to ask myself: "would it be worth the millions it would cost to really and seriously prosecute folks, vs the cost of just ignoring all callers we doubt?"

I receive Spam calls daily as many as 5 or more, worked with my telephone service provider, they suggested I use a free service of theirs to block said numbers, but I would be limited to 100 blocked numbers, well I used that up in about a month. When I called back this rep said it was going to work because of the telemarketers process, calls would still come thru.

We get it least 3 to 9 scammer calls today for nonsense like solar panels sales or insurance or Medicare program The DNC is completely utterly worthless!

I have been reporting robocalls and illegal Telemarketing calls but they just keep calling and calling and I tell them that they need to stop because their calls are illegal. Then I hang up on them. Some time later in the day they call again. Same thing. The most illegal calls in a single day would be 3-4 in a single day. I feel like I have fallen victim to these calls. I also have felt like they call at inconvenient times. If anyone can relate to this message let me know

Robo calls are TOTALLY out of control! No call list is useless! Even blocking calls on my phone does not work!! 5, mind you, 5 calls AND VOICE MAILS
JUST TODAY about medical braces that have nothing to do with me! So sorry I bought and AM STILL PAYING FOR A SMART PHONE! Did not have these problems with monthly prepay...18 months and counting til goodby phone. Anyone out there!? And NO I AM NOT A ROBOT!

This is all just a waste. Do not call is just a fake policy to make us feel better. I met a woman who runs a call center company. She has never received one complaint from the govt, so she ignores the do not call list. If they REALLY wanted to do something, the govt would provide a "*77" or some code that would auto log the offending call. I get loads of these... 1) I click the option to remove my name and add to the local do not call, 2) I stay on the line and yell at the person who answers... they are used to this so instantly hang up... nothing stop it. Does the govt intend that I act like a fake customer for 30 mins to be able to get a real addr and phone number and name... then waste more time logging the complaint... then the govt will not act on the complaint anyway. Stop wasting your time with do not call... and just recognise that our govt is doing nothing to stop this.

The latest is the No Caller ID with unknown number. Most of the time it rings once and they end the call. If it rings more than once, they never leave a message. Kinda hard to report 'unknown'.

DNC registry is meaningless merely because they won't do anything. I have literally filed over 100 complaints (many against the same serial telemarketers). We need an expedited small claims process that allows working individuals to sue for damages. We also need to generate lists of the firms that hire these telemarketers so that we can go after them as well with both a boycott and damages. Until there are negative consequences, this malicious behavior will never stop.

I own a plumbing co. I get upwards 20 to 50 calls a day! They constantly tie up our phone lines and we loose customers. Most calls are from Google or contractors of Google about my advertising. Then there's Angie's list, home advisor, tons of home warranty companies. And all the basic robo and live calls. This is insane! Is this going to happen for the rest of my life every single day? I'm going crazy from all these calls! If they are "breaking the law" why are they not behind bars? Can our president do something to end this once and for all???

We have received HUNDREDS of calls in the past few months from 'phone numbers' starting with the letter 'V', followed by about 14 numbers, always different. I can't register them because the site doesn't accept anything but normal phone numbers. I get no less than 6 calls a day, sometimes a dozen. My phone provider can't block them, even tho they block 'normal' ROBO calls. HELP????

I was getting 10-20 calls a week. Never answer them unless they're in my address book. I signed up on the DNC about a month ago. The calls have escalated and now I'm getting them on Sunday too. Thinking about giving up the phone. They use it more than I do!

I've been saying this: "Thank you for calling the Internet Crimes Division of the (whatever the locale is) Police Department, Detective (I give them my last name) how can I help you?" It's been working. Yesterday, 4-1-2019, I got a robo call from US Bank. I'm not a member. Today I'm filling formal complaints with the donotcall website, the FTC and the FCC. In 2016 the maximum penalty for each call was raised to $40,000. That's according to my Google search on the complaint process.

The day before the calls started, I received a Tech Support Scam on my home computer. A program locked down my screen and a robotic voice shouted a warning that I was using pirated software and a stolen Microsoft key code. It instructed me to call Microsoft to clear up the matter or I would not be able to use my computer. It provided me with a phone number. I got rid of that interference and called the real Microsoft to complain.

The next day I received 5 phone calls in from a recording claiming to be Microsoft, warning me not to do any online banking until I call them and get rid of the virus that's in my computer. I blocked the number they called me from through my telephone service. The next day they called again from a different number. Each time they call, my phone shows the word 'Pensacola'.

I have gotten 39 spam calls on my cell phone since April 17, 25 of which were between May 1 and today, May 9. When they call they let the phone ring about 15 times. Isn’t there anything that can be done about these calls? I get calls in my car while I’m driving, calls at home, calls on my home phone that I haven’t even counted yet. I am going on 80 years old and can’t be running for the phone.

I am receiving hundreds of multiple robo calls typically at 4 AM and 10 PM from international numbers from all over the world on my cell phone. They leave voicemails which sound Chinese and say "hello" the disconnect. These are untraceable numbers ... One digit changes at a time...from Russia, Nigher, Latvia, Slovenia..etc. I gave been on the registry since 2005.

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