The Federal Do Not Call list once worked very well. I rarely received phone calls from people or companies I didn't already have a working relationship with. But lately, our phone rings off the hook with unsolicited callers. When I tell callers that we're on the Do Not Call list, I get a variety of reactions: (1) they may say their business is exempt because they are non-profit or (2) they're exempt because they are affiliated with a participating group that I'm a registered member of or (3) they're not selling anything, they just want my responses to their survey or (4) the jerks just flat out HANG UP at the mention of any list!!
So here's what I've started doing to combat the unwanted calls issue (it's only getting worse). First, Caller ID is totally worth the $2-3 per month and it allows me to see the phone number most of the time. If the name of the company doesn't show up (BLOCKED or UNKNOWN) or if I don't recognize the number, I now have a reason to go ahead and answer it. No really, I do. Because, instantly, I turn into a cooperative (undercover super sleuth) listener -- gathering as much information as I can in the next 60 seconds. I ask for the name of the company, how they got my number, and then listen for whatever other information they happen to offer. When I'm done playing the listening game, I tell the caller I'm not interested, ask to be put on their company "do not call" list, and hang up. Next, I run the phone number through 800 Notes. This online community tracks all telemarketing (or other "unavailable") calls in one location, providing you with notes on who the caller is and what they might want. Furthermore, this website asks YOU to contribute by reporting unsolicited calls to your home or cell phone.
This is how it works:
1) Just go to http://800notes.com/ and do a search for the number that popped up on your caller ID.
2) Sometimes you'll find a whole mess of other notes on the same phone number (that other people were kind enough to leave). Their notes may help you figure out who is calling and what they want. Other times you may not find any reported notes, yet.
3) PLEASE be sure to leave a note that you received a call from the number. You don't have to enter your real name or location. However, this website only works because people take just a few seconds to enter some relevant information. EVEN IF you don't know any information (and even if you didn't pick up the phone), just listing the number as having called your home is helpful in identifying a telemarketing pattern.
The comment form looks like this:
I like that it's very straight forward and you don't have to leave any personal information. Here are a few call details you might include in your report:
* What date and time did you receive the call?
* How many times did that number call your phone in the last 24 hours (or few days)?
* What did they want? (if you answered) Believe it or not, some phone numbers are widely used for many different types of telemarketing calls. While they may call someone else to sell vacuums, they may be calling you asking for donations for a medical issue.
* Did the caller give you their name?
* What's your general location? Remember, you aren't leaving a real name, so you should feel free to provide a little regional information. I'll type in Western Nebraska or Nebraska Panhandle or even Northwestern Nebraska just to mix it up. Sometimes this is valuable information when they discover the telemarketer is only calling numbers in your area.
* Was it a man or woman?
* Did the call start out as an automated caller and ask you to press buttons to speak to a real person?
* Could you understand the caller?
* Did they identify a company they were affiliated with?
* How did they react to your questions?
* Was there a lot of background noise from the other end of the line?
* If you asked them to place you on their "Do Not Call" list, how did they respond?
Please report your next unsolicited phone call to 800 Notes. I know it's not the only website that does this, so feel free to add other similar websites in the comments, below. I bet if we all went to look at our caller ID list we'd have a handful of numbers we could go look up right this instant, so check it out when you have a moment!