Is there any group more persistent than telemarketers? Like the dogged protagonist of a romantic comedy, once a telemarketing company has you in its sights, it won’t stop chasing you until you agree to buy some product you have no interest in. In a time when people tend to carry smartphones everywhere, telemarketers can strike you anytime and are seemingly impervious to disinterest or outright anger.
Tell them you’re not interested? They’ll call back. Ask them to take your number off their list? They might… or they might not, and call back at a later date.
As persistent as telemarketers may be, you do have options. You can register your number with the National Do Not Call registry, though this will only deter sales calls, and even then, shady businesses may still call you. Thankfully, there are a few other things you can try.
Try using the number-blocking function on your smartphone
On an iPhone, go to Settings, then Phone. Under Calls, tap Call Blocking & Identification.
On Android, open the phone app and click the three dots in the upper-right corner. Tap Settings, select Block Numbers, and enter the numbers you wish to block.
Even if you block a telemarketing company’s number, chances are they have plenty more to call you from. As long as they know that there is a living, breathing human on the other end — one who could potentially give in to their sales pitch — they’ll keep making attempts. The best thing to do is convince the telemarketers that your number doesn’t work. But how?
To stop telemarketers once and for all, trick them
Believe it or not, you can fool telemarketers by playing a message that says your number is not in service. To do so, you’ll merely need a recording of one of those disconnected phone messages, which you can then play whenever a telemarketer calls.
First, buy a recorder — preferably one you can plug into a headphone jack, so as to record the “not in service” message with better clarity. Afterward, find a “not in service” message, which you can easily do online, and record said message.
When a telemarketer calls you, answer (preferably in a quiet place), but don’t say anything. Play the recording, and the telemarketer on the other end, be they person or robocaller, should determine that your phone number is not in service, and remove it from their call list.
Granted, you’ll have to keep the recording on-hand for whenever you get a spam call, but if it works, the telemarketers will give up on you. Besides, you may also feel a sense of glee bamboozling the corporations that have long plagued you.
In addition to federal laws regulating telemarketing under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), some states add their own laws. Most recently Ohio state senator Dave Burke proposed new penalties on misleading telemarketing calls.
David Cogen — a regular contributor here at Digital Trends — runs TheUnlockr.com, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him over at Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.
Updated with information on proposed Ohio telemarketing law.