PARKERSBURG - Everyone dreads those repeated unwanted telemarketing calls.
The Federal Communications Commission has been receiving complaints in increasing numbers from consumers throughout the nation about unwanted and uninvited calls from telemarketers. Pursuant to its authority under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Federal Communications Commission established, together with the Federal Trade Commission, a national Do-Not-Call Registry.
The registry is nationwide and applies to all telemarketers, with the exception of certain nonprofit organizations, and covers both interstate and intrastate telemarketing calls. Commercial telemarketers are not allowed to call if your number is on the registry, subject to certain exceptions.
"All too often I am interrupted with calls from telemarketers. I realize the individuals who work for these companies are just doing their job and I try to be understanding, but I have never found too much opportunity to get a word in. Their calls are most often scripted and from the point of hello you are pretty much doomed unless you interrupt or simply hang up the phone in order to terminate the conversation. I have been contacted multiple times by a telemarketing agency and have asked repeatedly to have my number removed and still they persist. These calls occur both on my home phone and my cell phone. People should have a choice as to whether or not they are willing to accept this type of call. I for one, am not interested in receiving them," said Cynthia Butcher-Hagerman of Parkersburg, one of many who are tired of the unwanted calls.
Under federal restrictions, telemarketers are not to call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. and according to the Federal Communications Commission, telemarketing to wireless phone numbers has always been illegal in most cases and will continue to be so. FCC regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call wireless phone numbers. Automated dialers are in standard use in the telemarketing industry, so most telemarketers are barred from calling consumers on their wireless phones without their consent.
Personal wireless phone users can add their numbers to the national registry. The government does not maintain a separate national wireless phone registry.
Telemarketers are supposed to promptly tell you who they are calling for and if the call is a sales call or charitable solicitation. They are to disclose all material information about the goods or services they are offering and terms of the sale. They are prohibited from lying about any terms of the offer. Telemarketers must transmit caller ID information and are prohibited from blocking caller ID information. Express permission must now be obtained in writing before advertisements may be sent to a customer
Individuals can register their phone numbers on the Do-Not-Call list for free and they will remain on the list until they remove them or discontinue service. The Do-Not-Call registry does not prevent all unwanted calls. It does not cover calls from organizations with which you have established a business relationship; calls for which you have given prior written permission; calls which are not commercial or do not include unsolicited advertisements, and calls by or on behalf of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations.
Sgt. Greg Collins, public information officer with the Parkersburg Police Department, said his department rarely gets complaints regarding the calls. He offered advice for someone who receives an unsolicited call.
"We would recommend people end the call if it's one they weren't expecting. You can end it politely, but just end it quickly. If you find yourself interested in the content of the call, never give any personal information over the phone. If it's a cause you find yourself wanting to support, patiently research it and find your own way to contribute through verified resources and networks," Collins said.
"Some very intelligent people have been lulled into giving information over the phone that has ruined their life, Collins said, noting legitimate organizations don't mind providing verifiable resources and contact information, nor do they mind being patient about a decision.
To add your number to the Do No Call Registry call 888-382-1222 from the phone you wish to register. Numbers placed on the National Do Not Call Registry remain on it permanently due to the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February 2008. Subscribers may register their residential telephone number, including wireless numbers, on the national Do-Not-Call registry by telephone or by Internet at no cost. Consumers can register on-line for the national do-not-call registry by going to www.donotcall.gov. For TTY call 1-866-290-4236.
By law, telemarketers must search the registry every 90 days and delete from their call lists any telephone numbers on the registry. If you continue to receive telemarketing calls even after you have registered your number, you will be able to file a complaint with the FCC or FTC. A telemarketer who disregards the do not call registry could be fined up to $11,000 for each call. If you are signed up on the National Do Not Call Registry and are still receiving the calls, you can file a complaint by phone at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY, by fax to 1-866-418-0232 or use the electronic complaint form or mail. For more information go online to: www.donotcall.gov.
To report a scam or file a complaint, West Virginians can reach the Attorney General's Office online at www.wvago.gov or by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-368-8808.