Minnesota Attorney General's Office
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
M - F 8 am - 5 pm
What You Can Do About Unwanted Telemarketing Calls
Unwanted telemarketing calls can be disruptive and annoying. People are understandably frustrated when unsolicited telemarketing calls interrupt their dinner, quiet time with their family, or the privacy in their home. Many of the most aggressive telemarketers are outright criminals who don’t think twice about violating state and federal telemarketing laws. These criminals use new technology, such as throw away cell phones and software that fools caller ID systems, to evade detection.
Do Not Call Registry. Under federal law, people have the right to place their telephone number on the Do Not Call Registry to try to restrict unwanted telemarketing calls. If your name is on the Registry, certain telemarketers are not supposed to call you. Although the Registry is meant to block unwanted calls, the law unfortunately has a number of loopholes. For instance, it does not apply to political calls, calls by companies that conduct surveys, calls by nonprofits, or calls by organizations with which you have had a business relationship. In addition, criminals and fraudsters (who do not follow the law anyway) will probably not heed the Do Not Call Law, so signing up for the Registry is unlikely to stop calls from scam artists. Nevertheless, signing up for the Do Not Call Registry should limit the number of unwanted telemarketing calls you receive from reputable companies.
How the Do Not Call Registry Works. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) maintains a national Do Not Call Registry. You may sign up for the Do Not Call Registry by contacting:
Federal Trade Commission
I’m Still Getting Calls! Many citizens report that even though they have signed up for the Do Not Call Registry, they continue to receive unwanted telemarketing calls. This in part is because some unscrupulous telemarketers and fraudsters have little or no regard for the law. This makes it increasingly difficult for citizens to successfully use the Do Not Call Registry to stop unwanted calls.
Violations of the Do Not Call Registry law are enforced at the federal level by the FTC. If you believe that a caller is violating the Do Not Call law, you should report the problem as follows:
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Toll free: 1-877-382-4357
In-house Do Not Call Lists. Some companies, such as those with whom you’ve had a business relationship, or those calling on behalf of nonprofits or political entities, are not required to follow the Do Not Call Registry. Under the law, however, these organizations must maintain their own “in-house” do not call list. If you ask each organization to put you on their individual in-house do not call list, the organization must stop calling you. Organizations that violate this law and continue to call you may be subject to a fine.
Contact Your Telephone Service Provider. To further reduce unwanted calls, you may wish to speak with your phone company about calling features that allow you to be selective in which calls you accept or receive. For example, your phone company may offer selective ringing, which allows residents to have a list of numbers, such as those of family and friends, with a special ring; selective call acceptance, which allows residents to block all calls except those on a special list of phone numbers; selective call blocking, which allows residents to selectively block numbers from which they do not wish to receive a call; and anonymous call rejection, which blocks all calls that fail to pulse caller ID. These features are also available on many modern digital handsets.
Caller ID “Spoofing”. Some scammers making unwanted telephone calls are using a new technology called “caller ID spoofing” to falsify caller ID information. This means that telephone services such as caller ID, *69 (last call return) and *57 (call trace) are no longer reliable. The use of “spoofed” numbers by fraudsters who hide from the law is spreading due to phone companies’ installation of computer equipment that allows Internet-connected computers to cheaply make phone calls to conventional telephones. This technology allows the scammer to make unidentifiable phone calls to a citizen’s home. When a person returns a “spoofed” call, they find that the number is disconnected, not in service, or is assigned to someone who is very obviously not the scammer.
Most “spoofed” calls come from criminals trying to steal money or obtain personal information, such as credit card numbers, which the thieves can then use to commit identity theft. Citizens who suspect a caller is using “spoofing” should immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at the address listed above.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has authority over local telephone services like caller ID. Citizens may contact the PUC as follows:
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
121 7th Place East, Suite 350
121 Seventh Place East
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-0406 or
“Spoofing” and Cell Phones.Some consumers have reported receiving “spoofed” calls on their cell phone. This is particularly troubling to many citizens, because they are forced not only to deal with the nuisance, but also to pay for the expense of the call. Consumers who receive such “spoofed” calls on their cell phone should contact their wireless provider and make them aware of the call and ask it to take any action it can to stop future calls and to reverse any charges to the consumer’s account as a result of this call.