End Unwanted Telemarketing Calls

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(This article appeared in the January/February 2012 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Joyce B. Robinson, Research & Education Department Director

Have you ever sat down to a peaceful dinner only to be interrupted by a call from a telemarketer? If so, you’re not alone. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the National Do- Not-Call Registry in June 2003 in response to consumer complaints about unsolicited telemarketing calls.

The National Do-Not-Call Registry is designed to limit telemarketing calls made to your home or personal wireless phone numbers. Once your number(s) are added to the registry, telemarketers are prohibited from calling you.

Register Your Phone Number

You can register your phone number(s) on the National Do- Not-Call Registry by calling (888) 382-1222 (voice) or (866) 290-4236 (TTY). You must call from the phone number you wish to register. The Do-Not-Call list only applies to a telephone advertisement solicitation. It does not include calls or messages placed by or on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit organizations, or from a person or organization with which you have an established business relationship. However, you can request that the organization remove your phone number(s) from its internal phone list and that request must be honored. If problems continue with such calls, contact the FCC.

Many states have do-not-call lists for residents. Contact your state’s public service commission or consumer protection office to see if such a list exists, or visit www.naruc.org/commissions.cfm.

Stop Debt Collectors’ Calls

Debt collectors can only call between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time; calls made outside of those hours should be reported. Debt collectors are not allowed to be verbally abusive or obscene over the phone. They are also forbidden from contacting your friends or family to discuss your debt. In fact, there is no law that requires you to communicate with a debt collector over the phone. You can prevent future calls from debt collection agents by asking the debt collector for the company’s name, address and the account number for the debt they are calling about. Then send a “Cease and Desist Letter” by certified mail, return receipt requested , to the debt collector requesting that the company stops contacting you. The agency will be forced to contact you by mail.

For More Information

For help or additional information, contact the Federal Communications Commission. If you receive a telephone solicitation that you think violates any of these rules, you can file a complaint with the FCC by calling 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to: Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries & Complaints Division, 445 12th Street SW, Washington DC 20554.

Sample “Cease and Desist Letter”

Your Name 
Your Address 
Debt Collector’s Name 
Debt Collector’s Address

Re: Your Account Number

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to my rights under federal debt collection laws, I request that you cease and desist telephone communication with me, as well as my family and friends, in relation to this and all other alleged debts you claim I owe your company.

If you do not comply with this request to stop telephone contact with me or others concerning my debt, I will file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the state of [list your state here] Attorney General’s office. In addition, civil and criminal charges will be pursued.


Your Name


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