How can I take down these telemarketers?
September 29, 2007 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Please help me take action against an unidentified automated telemarketer!

Over the last three weeks I have received three identical automated calls on my home phone number soliciting a "free carpet cleaning" service. The company and phone number are never identified, and the only options on the phone tree are:
1) Make an "appointment"
2) unsubscribe from list.

*69 only gives me "000-000-0000," so I can't call them back and ask for information.

I would love to send a complaint to the FCC/FTC/whoever, but I don't know if this will do any good without as much as a phone number.

I'm sure this is illegal (I believe I can take them to small-claims court for $500 for the automated solicitations), but I don't know to what degree or to whom I should complain. Any ideas on what, if any, action I can take? Thanks.
posted by anodyne- to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about making an appointment? You'd figure out who they were then.

Cancel it, of course.
posted by Flunkie at 4:04 PM on September 29, 2007

Call the phone company and ask about blocking the number, since they are "harassing" you (i.e., ask what the option are for blocking a harassing number). See what resources they have for figuring out the number.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:12 PM on September 29, 2007

I remember this from when I was living in San Diego. Unfortunately, it may well be legal, even if terribly annoying. That's because some of the more shady telemarketers have relocated to Tijuana and make their automated calls from there.

Automated telemarketing calls are illegal in the US, but not in Mexico. If you live somewhere near the border, I would bet that's what's happened. In that case US authorities can't do anything about it, and US courts don't have jurisdiction. It isn't illegal for an American company to hire a Mexican telemarketer, and it isn't actionable so far as I know.

I guess it really depends on just how annoyed you are, and what lengths you're willing to go to. You could make an appointment, in order to find out who the actual company is, and once you know you cancel it and then give them hell. But that seems like a lot of pain, and if you handle it just wrong you could end up having to pay a cancellation fee -- or else they would haul you into small claims court.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:19 PM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I assume you are in the US?
The National Do Not Call Registry is where you should start.

After you register with them, telemarketing firms have a month to download the data and take your preference into account. If they continue calling you after you have been listed on the registry for over a month, you can file a complaint against them.

Note that organizations with whom you have done any business in the past are exempt from this. So, once you give money or sign onto a list with a company that telemarkets, they are allowed to contact you.

Hope this helps.
posted by yoz420 at 4:33 PM on September 29, 2007

Except that Mexican telemarketers are also not bound by that list. It's another reason some of them have relocated.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:48 PM on September 29, 2007

getting any action against a telemarketer like this is almost impossible. The do-not-call law was a good idea, but is pretty much impossible to enforce.

Change your number... and when it starts again, change it again..
posted by HuronBob at 5:28 PM on September 29, 2007

Get a phone service that lets you block anonymous callers. Many VOIP services can do this. I have ViaTalk and can not only block anonymous callers, but can also block entire area codes or even entire exchanges within area codes, or of course specific numbers. (I have 800, 866, 877, and 888 blocked, as my credit card issues often call me using numbers in those exchanges to try to upsell me to various things. ViaTalk gives them a busy signal and they move on to the next victim.)
posted by kindall at 6:06 PM on September 29, 2007

I *am* fairly close to the border (San Diego), and have been on the National Do-Not-Call list for some time now.

If they call again I'll try and get some information, but I doubt it will help - from what's been said here I imagine they're either calling from Mexico or a scam of some sort. I'll contact the phone company and see if there's anything they will do, but at this point it isn't a great enough nuisance to go to too much trouble.

Thanks for the advice!
posted by anodyne- at 6:25 PM on September 29, 2007

Make an appointment, sending them to a location with a nearby pay phone.

At appointment time, call said pay phone, and tell the confused person who answers how you feel about unwanted phone solicitation.
posted by altcountryman at 2:41 PM on September 30, 2007

AltCountryman, while that might be satisfying, ultimately it's not very wise. Remember, they know the phone number they dialed in order to make the solicitation. They can do a reverse directory lookup to get your real name and address.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:42 PM on October 1, 2007

Steven C. - that's a really good point, I must not have been firing on all cylinders when I dreamed that one up...
posted by altcountryman at 7:16 PM on October 4, 2007

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