How to ask telemarketers to stop calling

Being a telemarketer is an exercise in resilience—constantly making unwanted phone calls to people who typically hang up on you. I should know: I worked as one for two years. Most people don’t know how to get rid of us, but the right approach can make all the difference. Here’s how you can get rid of telemarketers like me and save us both a lot of time.

How telemarketers get to you

Not all companies run exactly the same way, but most calls follow a similar pattern. Successful telemarketers generally have a 96 percent chance of getting turned down. With such terrible odds, they will be relentless in trying to keep you on the phone.

Each telemarketer has their own username and password, so all the information they gather during their shift stays linked to them. Depending on the company calling you, the lead will display a little or a lot of information. I work for an arts organization, so we can see the customer’s entire history: subscriptions, added ticket purchases for friends, donations and sometimes even notes on who their assistants or friends are. In other cases, they may just have your phone number.

Avoid Telemarketers by Understanding Their Secrets

Sure, you can put yourself on the Do Not Call list but that doesn’t stop telemarketers from being…

Anything relevant you mention will be added to your lead profile: an email address, best time to call, or your objections to the product. Don’t say anything to the telemarketer unless you want it written down on your profile.

If the caller doesn’t reach you, they mark your lead as “no answer” and the system programs it so you get called again a few days later. If the company does not have a large lead pool, you may get called as soon as 12 hours later. If you’re dealing with this kind of aggressive campaign, it’s actually better to answer then to let them keep calling you. (More on how to handle that later.)

If the caller does speak to you, they will do their best to sell to you on the first call. A good telemarketer uses the “Three Nos” rule: don’t let the customer go until they have said “no” three times during the phone call. This technique has actually worked for me several times. After the first two no, the client often runs out of reasons and becomes more persuadable. Telemarketers try to keep you on the phone as long as possible because they can eventually wear you down and get money out of you.

If you don’t purchase on that initial phone call , the telemarketer will log everything you’ve said and suggest calling you back another time. These are logged as “call backs”—tiny gold nuggets for telemarketers. Selling to a call back is more likely than selling to a first call because you’ve already established a rapport. This process may take weeks, and sometimes results in a sale simply because the patron wants to stop the calls.

How Can I Block a Number from Calling My Cellphone?

Whether it’s your annoying ex, a persistent telemarketer or someone else you’d rather not hear…

How you’re making it worse

A lot of people make simple mistakes that lead to several more calls. Here are the things you need to avoid:

  • Don’t immediately hang up the phone. This results in the telemarketer marking your lead as “no answer” and calling you back until they actually have a conversation with you.
  • Don’t engage with the telemarketer in any way. This gives them the false hope that you may just need some convincing and are actually interested in their product. Do not ask questions. Do not explain why you are not interested in the product. Do not show empathy or other human characteristics.
  • Don’t get irrationally angry at the telemarketer. Remember, the computer chose your lead, not the caller. If you scream at them because you’ve gotten called before, this will not make them sympathetic to your case. It’s likely they’ll just put you back into the lead pool to torture you. If the telemarketer is being rude, you can ask to speak to a manager. Despite what they might say, every campaign and business has a supervisor in the call room.
  • Don’t give up mid-conversation and hang up without an explanation. This will most likely result in the telemarketer calling back, claiming you got “disconnected.” If you don’t answer then, they will keep calling.
  • Don’t let the telemarketer call you back at another time. Anything that’s not a hard “no” will be interpreted as an opportunity to call you back. When you say “This isn’t a good time,” the telemarketer hears “Call me back later!” When you say “Sorry, I don’t have time to talk about this right now” the telemarketer hears “I will buy this another day!”

How to ask telemarketers to stop calling

Modern robocalls aren’t just telemarketers trying to sell you something. They’re often scammers trying to trick you into parting with your money or identity information. So how do you stop them from coming in?

Get on the Do Not Call List

How to ask telemarketers to stop calling

In the USA, you can register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Telemarketers are not supposed to call numbers on the list. Some other countries have their own “Do Not Call” registries, so check to see if your country offers something similar if you don’t live in the USA.

Just head to that government website and register all the phone numbers you use to avoid getting telemarketing calls. If you’re not sure whether you registered your number previously, you can verify whether the phone number is on the list or not.

Telemarketer calls should stop within 31 days of you adding your number to the list. Initially, numbers put on the list were set to expire after five years, forcing people to re-register their numbers. However, this requirement was removed. Your phone number will now never expire from the list.

Unfortunately, the Do Not Call list won’t stop all robocalls. It will stop legitimate telemarketing calls, but telephone scammers—which are generally located outside the USA, anyway—won’t bother following the rules. This also only applies to telemarketing, so political campaigns, charities, and surveys are still free to call you as well.

Ask Legitimate Callers to Stop

Callers with whom you have an “existing business relationship” are free to place robocalls to you, even if you’re on the Do Not Call list. However, if you ask the caller to not call you again, they are supposed to stop calling, or face a potential $40,000 fine.

If you asked the company to stop calling you and they continue, keep a record of the date and time you asked. You can then report the company to the FTC.

This won’t help if you’re dealing with a scammer. But, if a legitimate company is placing robocalls to you, it should follow the rules when you ask it to stop.

Block a Database of Numbers on Your Smartphone

How to ask telemarketers to stop calling

The Do Not Call list is a great first step. Unfortunately, there are many telephone scammers out there who don’t want to follow the rules. And you may not want to receive calls from political campaigns, survey companies, charities, and other organizations that are exempt from the Do Not Call list.

To block those robocalls, you can download a third-party app for your smartphone that blocks a “crowdsourced” list of phone numbers that other people have reported.

There are quite a few apps for this, including Mr. Number, available for both Android and iPhone. When a robocall dials your phone number, you’ll see a warning that the caller is a suspected telemarketer or scammer. The app can also block these calls completely, so you won’t even know these numbers are calling you. If you’re an iPhone user, you’ll need iOS 10 to take advantage of this app.

Block Individual Phone Numbers

Lastly, you keep receiving robocalls from a specific phone number—or a few specific phone numbers—you can block that number right on your smartphone. Both Android and iPhone have built-in ways to block specific phone numbers so you won’t receive phone calls from it ever again. You can do this right from the call history in your dialer app.

Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof solution to block all robocalls. Apps that do the dirty work for you are the best option, but that won’t help if you’re using a landline phone. In 2015, the FTC ruled telephone carriers could offer call-blocking tools to their customers. Telephone companies will hopefully provide better call-screening tools for all customers in the future. For now, though, these solutions should help diminish the problem, if not eliminate it entirely.

Michigan Telemarketing Laws / Do Not Call List

Telemarketing Laws Protecting Michigan Consumers—Do Not Call List

Marketing goods or services to potential customers over the telephone is called telemarketing. When you pick up the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, that’s a robocall. Increasingly, telemarketing is being done with intrusive robocalls.

This alert provides an overview of Michigan and federal laws aimed at preventing and punishing unwanted telemarketing calls and illegal scams.

Do Not Call List

The Michigan Legislature adopted the federal Do Not Call Registry as the state do not call list for Michigan consumers who do not want to receive telemarketing calls at home or on their cell phones. Registering your telephone number is FREE, and there are two easy ways to sign up:

  1. You can go online to register your phone number. The system will send you a confirmation email. To complete your registration, click on the link in the email within 72 hours after you get it; or
  2. You can call 888-382-1222 from the phone number you want on the list.

The Do Not Call list will keep you off for-profit business call lists, because telemarketers are required to check their solicitation lists and remove all registered numbers. But it is not immediate and it will not block all robocalls. Telemarketers update their lists periodically, which according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), means it can take up to 31 days before putting your number on the list takes full effect. Even then, political organizations, charities, and survey takers are legally permitted to call you.

Other calls that may come through include those from:

  • businesses from whom you’ve bought something or made a payment to in the last 18 months, unless you have asked them not to call you;
  • survey callers to whom you have given permission to make a follow-up call*;
  • companies whose fine print you missed that granted them permission to call (by example, when you entered a sweepstakes or signed up for a free product offer); and
  • companies trying to scam you who don’t care about following the law and who won’t bother to screen for numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.

(*Survey callers may sometimes ask if they can make a follow-up call. Beware. If you agree, then a for-profit company associated with the survey company can call you with a sales pitch.)

Your phone number will stay on the Do Not Call Registry forever, unless you ask for it to be removed. If you ever get a call from someone offering to sign you up for the registry, it is a scam! The service is completely free and the FTC will not call you to solicit your registration.

must remove you from their calling lists upon request;

must provide you with the name and contact information of the company they represent;

may not call you between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.; and

may not present fraudulent or misleading information about the products or services they are selling.

Fax numbers are subject to different regulations, so signing them up on this list will not do anything to thwart junk faxes. See the Attorney General Consumer Alert “Do Not Fax Me!” for how to stop unwanted faxes.

Cash-to-cash money transfers like those from MoneyGram and Western Union;

PINs from cash reload cards like MoneyPak and Vanilla Reload; or

Remotely created payment orders or checks using your bank account information.

If a telemarketer asks you to use any of these payment methods, then the telemarketer is breaking the law. Hang up, and report it to the FTC.

Michigan Home Solicitation Sales Act

In addition to adopting the federal Do Not Call Registry as the state do not call list for Michigan consumers, the Michigan Home Solicitation Sales Act (MHSSA), establishes a “code of conduct” for telemarketers. Telephone solicitors may not:

Misrepresent or fail to clearly disclose:

the total purchase price of the product being sold;

any restrictions or conditions on purchase;

any material term or condition regarding refund, cancellation, or exchange;

any material aspect of an investment opportunity being offered;

the quantity or any material aspect of the quantity, or characteristics of the product being sold;

Make false or misleading statement to induce payment for goods or services;

Request payment or submit a credit card charge before receiving express verifiable authorization showing that the consumer has agreed to purchase;

Call a consumer who has requested that he or she not receive calls from the seller;

Intentionally block or interfere with the caller ID function on a consumer’s phone;

Make a call that consists in whole or in part of a recorded message; and

Make a telephone solicitation to a telephone subscriber whose number is on the Do Not Call List.

Other Requirements

At the beginning of a telemarketing call, the telemarketer must state his or her name and the full name of the business on whose behalf the call is made. A telephone number for the business must be provided on request, and a live person must be available to answer that telephone number and give information describing the business itself and the offer being pitched.

Michigan Telemarketing Curfew

Michigan’s Penal Code makes it a misdemeanor for any telemarketer to make “an unsolicited commercial telephone call” by person or recording device between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. MCL 750.540e(f).

Remedy and Penalties

Persons who suffer loss as a result of a violation of the law may bring a private lawsuit to recover actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees.

Violators are also subject to penalties provided by the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, as a violation of the Home Solicitation Sales Act also constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act. The Attorney General, a county prosecutor, or individual consumer may bring a lawsuit under the Consumer Protection Act.

Additionally, certain violations are punishable as a misdemeanor, or by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both. This penalty applies to commission of acts that are defined as being unfair or deceptive by the act, such as certain misrepresentations by telephone solicitors. It does not apply to violations of the Do Not Call Registry.

Finally, the FTC may impose a fine upon those who violate the National Do Not Call Registry or place an illegal robocall up to $16,000 per call.

For general consumer questions or to file a complaint, you may reach the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at:

Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
517-335-7599
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form

The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.

How do you get telemarketers to stop calling?

Set Your Phone on Do Not Disturb

To block every number except your most trusted contacts or favorites, you can turn on your iPhone or Android phone’s built-in Do Not Disturb Mode. It’s an extreme solution but it will definitely stop all unwanted calls, including robocalls, telemarketing calls and spam calls.

How do I stop spam calls permanently?

For Android, the process isn’t much different: go to the Recents section of the Phone app, long press on the bothersome number, and choose “Block / report spam.” Again, this will take a lot of persistent work on your part to keep the spammers away — and it does no good against blocked or private callers.

Why do telemarketers call and hang up?

Robocalls that hang up immediately are usually meant to verify your number. It means that the machine wants to confirm that the number is active and that a real person answered the phone. Those calls will be brief, and often the call gets disconnected as soon as you say hello.

Is it rude to hang up on telemarketers?

Don’t immediately hang up the phone.

This results in the telemarketer marking your lead as “no answer” and calling you back until they actually have a conversation with you.

Does * 61 block unwanted calls?

Block calls from your phone

Receive an unwanted call? Press *61 to add the last call received to your call block list. Press *80 to turn call blocking off.

What happens if I answer a spam risk call?

If you receive any call that says “spam risk,” “fraud risk,” “possible scam” or other variations on the caller ID tag, we highly recommend letting it go to voicemail. The call is likely a robocall, spammer or, worse still, someone attempting to phish your information via number spoofing.

What happens if you answer a spam call?

The robocall’s logic is simple. If you answer their call, your number is considered “good,” even if you don’t fall for the scam. They will try again next time because they know there’s someone on the other side who is a potential victim for fraud. The less you answer, the fewer the calls.

What happens if you call back a spam number?

However, the scam is only successful if you return the call. Do not call the number back: If it’s a legitimate call then the caller will likely ring back and more likely leave a voicemail. If you think the number might be suspect, don’t answer and let it go to voicemail.

Is it rude to hang up on cold callers?

If cold calls are defined as unsolicited sales attempts to individuals then hanging up is definitely acceptable. I’ll generally say “I’m not interested”, then hang up. Anything beyond ending the call leads to more wasted time, as the people calling have a script they must follow.

What is the point of silent calls?

When the other end of the line is silent, it could actually be an automated computer system that’s calling for the purpose of building a list of humans to target for theft. These silent calls are testing phone numbers to see which ones have a human to pick up and talk to someone.

Why do phone calls hang up after 4 hours?

Your or the other party’s cellular service provider puts a four-hour cap on the length of continuous connections. (Call them and ask.) Your or the other party’s phone battery depleted. Siri is jealous.

How late can telemarketers call your home?

Telemarketing calls to your home are prohibited before 8 am or after 9 pm, and telemarketers are required to comply immediately with any do-not-call request you make during a call.

How do I stop unwanted cold phone calls?

The best way to reduce nuisance calls is to register for free with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). They’ll add you to their list of numbers that don’t want to receive sales and marketing calls. It’s against the law for sales people from the UK or overseas to call numbers registered with TPS.

Are telemarketers allowed to call cell phones?

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers without prior consent. Automated dialers are standard in the industry, so most telemarketers are barred from calling consumers’ cell phones without their consent.

You have the power to stop telemarketers from calling you. You can get your number listed on the National Do Not Call Registry. The is registry is provided by the Federal Trade Commissions which prevents telemarketing and consumer fraud, and gives customers added privacy protections, and defenses against unscrupulous telemarketers.

Once on the National Do Not Call Registry for 31 days, you can stop telemarketers from calling you. You will have to register again in five years, as your registration will expire. You will not however, be able to stop all telemarketing calls. The National Do Not Call Registry cannot stop calls on the behalf of Political organizations, charities, and telephone surveyors. In addition, companies that you have a business relationship with like your loan or Credit Card Company can still call you.

You can stop these other organizations from calling you by asking to them to put you on their do not call list. If you do not mind telemarketers, but want a few specific companies to stop calling you, you can choose to not use the National Do Not Call Registry, and instead ask to be put on their Do Not Call list.

Should telemarketers continue to call you anyway, you can file a complaint. The Do Not Call Registry website has page where you can file a complaint. You will need to keep track of the calls that you received from the telemarketer you choose to complain about as well as their name and contact information. By law, telemarketers cannot block their number from caller ID, so the phone number that was called from should be available.

Your home phone number is not the only number protected on the Do Not Call Registry. You may also register your cell pone number.

If you are still getting calls after you registered, you need to first confirm that you are on the registry. If your number is not on the registry, you need to add your number to the Do Not Call Registry.

In addition to providing The National Do Not Call Registry, the FTC also sets requirements for sellers and telemarketers, prohibits credit card laundering, and unauthorized billing. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission enforces these rules and laws made to protect consumers.

Do you get Telemarketers calling you most nights trying to sell you a produce or saying that you have one a free holiday if you signup to their product? Are you sick of these people because they always interrupt you while watching TV or cooking dinner? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, read on to find out how get them to stop calling you.

I was reading a blog post from List and Notes and their solution was for you to tell the telemarketer that they have to speak to “Fred” (or some other fictional name), but say Fred is away for a few weeks, and they can only speak to Fred about this matter.

Although this solution may work, they are still going to call you back when they think Fred is back. So here’s another alternative so they will not call you back.

If this method didn’t work, I won’t be telling you it, but it does. I used to get at least 3 calls a week, now I don’t get any and I have tried this on 2 phone numbers that did get a lot of telemarketing calls.

So what is the trick?

The trick is pretty simple. All you have to do is follow a simple rule: “Don’t hang-up on them, make them hang-up on you”

How you get them to hang-up is up to you, but don’t be disrespectful and blow a whistle into the phone – they are human beings just doing their job.

Below are a couple of ways to get telemarketers to hang-up on you. For this to work and to get the best results, you need to be bored or have a lot of free time. So here we go:

  1. Say you can’t hear them so they have to repeat themselves
  2. Keep saying hello when you answer and say you can’t hear them, anyone there?
  3. Act as you are dumb and have no idea what they are talking about
  4. Have a huge delay when you respond to them
  5. Transfer your call to different people in your house and get the telemarketer to repeat what they are saying to everyone – like what your phone company does when you have a problem. Keep going around in circles until the caller gives up
  6. Make them feel that they have a sale and that you are interested in what they are offering and drag the conversation on for a while, then just turn around and say I already have that and make them hang-up because they wasted so much time
  7. When they sell you a phone deal (or some other sort of deal), say that your with one of their competitors on a really great (but realist deal) that they cannot beat. Always ask “Can you beat XX plan?”
  8. If they say you have won a holiday, say your already on holiday and your phone’s diverted, or even say that you own your own holiday resort better then what they are offering
  9. If they say you have won something and they are about to say “but… you have to do this first”, interrupt them, scream and cheer to your family that you have won a holiday and how it will change your life because you are really poor – make them feel bad
  10. Say you’ll get someone who can help you, do something for a minute and come back to them saying that person isn’t there. Depending on their response, try and find someone else
  11. Say you’ll get someone else who to take their call because you think like they will enjoy what the telemarketer is offering, and pretend to have a really loud (maybe abusive) argument about something and make sure the telemarketer can hear you
  12. Play a pre-reordered message to them selling a product of your own
  13. Do some self-promotion of your own website, products, blogs etc
  14. Ask them a lot of questions about what they are offering, hard ones if you know the topic in detail and try to make them think
  15. Ask them stupid questions that are plain ridiculous
  16. Ask them how their day was, have they made any sales, how you can become a telemarketer just like them because their job is so cool
  17. Every couple of seconds, press a button on your telephone to make a beeping sound
  18. Ask for their contact details
  19. Get them to take up the offer and say you will only take it up if they take it up first. If they are selling you a cruise and they say they will take it, tell them to get off the phone and pack their bags right away
  20. Speak a different language of gibberish
  21. Keep sneezing (faking it of course) and get them to repeat themselves
  22. Change your voice pitch all the time from high to low
  23. Ask them “Do you know who I am” and pretend that you are a really famous person
  24. Tell the telemarketer you are interested and that you are going to get a pen and then just leave the phone off the hook for a while – By Joachim
  25. Tell them they are in violation of Department of Defense regulation 16A or some random number and that this constitutes a federal offense and that they will be contacted shortly by the FBI for having a secure number – Ken
  26. Answer the phone pretending you are from some telephone chat line where the caller gets charged $2 per minute – Deanna
  27. Act as you are a hostage negotiator and aim to get the telemarketer to release the hostages – Deanna

Update: Since I got mentioned on LifeHacker, here are a few of LifeHackers readers suggestions

  1. If they ask you a question and they expect your answer to be yes, say no or the opposite. If for example they ask “Do you want to go on a free holiday”, say “I hate holidays, I just want to be worked to death” or “I wish we could eat Panda bears to extinction – they look tasty”. It makes them confused and adds to your enjoyment – ByTeaman
  2. A trick I learned from a mate was to let them rant on so you seem interested. Then at the end you say in your creepiest seduction voice “before we proceed further with the deal, I have one question…. what are you wearing?” – ByXavier
  3. Try the Seinfeld approach – When you first answer tell them you are busy but interested and how long will they be at work for. Then say you wont be available to talk to untill they finish work. Ask them for their home number and say you will give them a call (when they will be having dinner). Of course they don’t like to do that which means you can say in your sincerest voice ‘oh i understand, you dont want people calling you at home’ to which they always say ‘yes’ and you can say ‘well now you know how i feel’ and hang up – By Mark
  4. Ask for their ABN, or other business contact information. They freak out and hang up on you – ByJake D
  5. My favourite technique is to pretend they’ve called to buy something off me. I go into a sales pitch and start blabbing on about how I can help them and ask them to clarify exactly what it is their company is looking for. It totally bamboozles the poor telemarketer. The start arguing, trying to explain they are the ones selling and it’s all I can do to keep from dying in fits of laughter – By Travis Y
  6. Ask where they got your contact information from and make it sound like they broke a federal law and will be personally liable for contacting you – ByB8two

The whole aim with the above is to get the telemarketer frustrated so they hang-up on you. If you do this a couple of times to them, in a couple of months they will get frustrated from calling you and will give up. If they suspect another time they may make a sale off you, they’ll keep calling you back.

Have you tried this before? Has it worked for you? Do you have any other methods that have worked? Share your stories.

Michigan Telemarketing Laws / Do Not Call List

Telemarketing Laws Protecting Michigan Consumers—Do Not Call List

Marketing goods or services to potential customers over the telephone is called telemarketing. When you pick up the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, that’s a robocall. Increasingly, telemarketing is being done with intrusive robocalls.

This alert provides an overview of Michigan and federal laws aimed at preventing and punishing unwanted telemarketing calls and illegal scams.

Do Not Call List

The Michigan Legislature adopted the federal Do Not Call Registry as the state do not call list for Michigan consumers who do not want to receive telemarketing calls at home or on their cell phones. Registering your telephone number is FREE, and there are two easy ways to sign up:

  1. You can go online to register your phone number. The system will send you a confirmation email. To complete your registration, click on the link in the email within 72 hours after you get it; or
  2. You can call 888-382-1222 from the phone number you want on the list.

The Do Not Call list will keep you off for-profit business call lists, because telemarketers are required to check their solicitation lists and remove all registered numbers. But it is not immediate and it will not block all robocalls. Telemarketers update their lists periodically, which according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), means it can take up to 31 days before putting your number on the list takes full effect. Even then, political organizations, charities, and survey takers are legally permitted to call you.

Other calls that may come through include those from:

  • businesses from whom you’ve bought something or made a payment to in the last 18 months, unless you have asked them not to call you;
  • survey callers to whom you have given permission to make a follow-up call*;
  • companies whose fine print you missed that granted them permission to call (by example, when you entered a sweepstakes or signed up for a free product offer); and
  • companies trying to scam you who don’t care about following the law and who won’t bother to screen for numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.

(*Survey callers may sometimes ask if they can make a follow-up call. Beware. If you agree, then a for-profit company associated with the survey company can call you with a sales pitch.)

Your phone number will stay on the Do Not Call Registry forever, unless you ask for it to be removed. If you ever get a call from someone offering to sign you up for the registry, it is a scam! The service is completely free and the FTC will not call you to solicit your registration.

must remove you from their calling lists upon request;

must provide you with the name and contact information of the company they represent;

may not call you between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.; and

may not present fraudulent or misleading information about the products or services they are selling.

Fax numbers are subject to different regulations, so signing them up on this list will not do anything to thwart junk faxes. See the Attorney General Consumer Alert “Do Not Fax Me!” for how to stop unwanted faxes.

Cash-to-cash money transfers like those from MoneyGram and Western Union;

PINs from cash reload cards like MoneyPak and Vanilla Reload; or

Remotely created payment orders or checks using your bank account information.

If a telemarketer asks you to use any of these payment methods, then the telemarketer is breaking the law. Hang up, and report it to the FTC.

Michigan Home Solicitation Sales Act

In addition to adopting the federal Do Not Call Registry as the state do not call list for Michigan consumers, the Michigan Home Solicitation Sales Act (MHSSA), establishes a “code of conduct” for telemarketers. Telephone solicitors may not:

Misrepresent or fail to clearly disclose:

the total purchase price of the product being sold;

any restrictions or conditions on purchase;

any material term or condition regarding refund, cancellation, or exchange;

any material aspect of an investment opportunity being offered;

the quantity or any material aspect of the quantity, or characteristics of the product being sold;

Make false or misleading statement to induce payment for goods or services;

Request payment or submit a credit card charge before receiving express verifiable authorization showing that the consumer has agreed to purchase;

Call a consumer who has requested that he or she not receive calls from the seller;

Intentionally block or interfere with the caller ID function on a consumer’s phone;

Make a call that consists in whole or in part of a recorded message; and

Make a telephone solicitation to a telephone subscriber whose number is on the Do Not Call List.

Other Requirements

At the beginning of a telemarketing call, the telemarketer must state his or her name and the full name of the business on whose behalf the call is made. A telephone number for the business must be provided on request, and a live person must be available to answer that telephone number and give information describing the business itself and the offer being pitched.

Michigan Telemarketing Curfew

Michigan’s Penal Code makes it a misdemeanor for any telemarketer to make “an unsolicited commercial telephone call” by person or recording device between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. MCL 750.540e(f).

Remedy and Penalties

Persons who suffer loss as a result of a violation of the law may bring a private lawsuit to recover actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees.

Violators are also subject to penalties provided by the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, as a violation of the Home Solicitation Sales Act also constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act. The Attorney General, a county prosecutor, or individual consumer may bring a lawsuit under the Consumer Protection Act.

Additionally, certain violations are punishable as a misdemeanor, or by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both. This penalty applies to commission of acts that are defined as being unfair or deceptive by the act, such as certain misrepresentations by telephone solicitors. It does not apply to violations of the Do Not Call Registry.

Finally, the FTC may impose a fine upon those who violate the National Do Not Call Registry or place an illegal robocall up to $16,000 per call.

For general consumer questions or to file a complaint, you may reach the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at:

Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
517-335-7599
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form

The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.

If you’ve ever wanted to turn the table on telemarketers, here’s how.

Robocalls Rise: How to Fight Back

January 21, 2014 — If you thought the creation of the “Do Not Call Registry” had solved the problem of telemarketers bombarding people with unwanted calls, think again.

Complaints about telemarketers have continued to climb since the Federal Trade Commission established the registry 2003. They now stand at an all time high — almost 4 million in 2012 — according to the FTC.

What can you do to fight back? Plenty, say experts: You can use new technology that detects and deflects telemarketing calls automatically. You can deliberately drive telemarketers nuts. Or you can do both.

Intrusive calls fall into two categories. The first are calls from legitimate telemarketers, in which the pitch comes straight from a real live person. Louis Greisman of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection testified before Congress in 2013 that the Do Not Call Registry has been “tremendously successful” in protecting the 221 million people who have registered.

Changes in telemarketing technology, however, have introduced calls that fall into a second category. These fully automated solicitations — so-called robocalls — are sent out by the million by computers. A pre-recorded solicitation asks the consumer to respond by, say, pressing “1” on his or her keypad. Only after that does a human pitchman comes on the line. Robocalls, according to the FTC, are illegal — unless the consumer has first given his or her express permission, in writing, to receive them.

Many robocalls peddle fraudulent goods and services that cause significant economic harm, Greisman said. In his 2013 testimony, he told Congress the FTC was using every tool at its disposal to fight them. For example, the Commission announced a challenge offering $50,000 in prizes to private-sector innovators who could come up with ways to block such calls.

Last April, software developer Aaron Foss won $25,000 from the FTC for a blocking system he calls Nomorobo. Up and running since October, the service is now used, Foss said, by some 45,000 consumers who subscribe to it for free. By Foss’ estimate, Nomorobo currently is blocking 1.3. million automated callers.

Many such callers don’t care about the Do Not Call list, Foss told ABC News either because they’re overseas, and thus beyond the FTC’s reach, or because it’s easy for them, when shut down by authorities, to spring back into action in a new venue. They’re more like email spammers than traditional telemarketers, he said.

Nomorobo piggybacks off a feature offered by most major phone carriers called “simultaneous ring.” Foss said it’s similar to call-forwarding.

When a consumer signs up with Nomorobo, he gets assigned a new phone number that rings simultaneously when somebody calls his existing landline or cell phone. When a robocall comes in, it rings once on the consumer’s existing number and again, simultaneously, on the Nomorobo number, where an algorithm determines in a fraction of a second whether it’s from a real person or from a robo-caller. If from the latter, a recording asks the caller to enter a number on their keypad.

Since no human being is yet on the line, no response is made, and Nomorobo dismisses the call before it can ring again. Thus, the consumer knows that any call that rings more than once is legit — or at least that it comes from a real person rather than a robot.

The service is offered free to consumers. Foss makes money by charging commercial users a fee based on their call volume. Ironically, he said, call centers for legitimate businesses — say, ones selling flowers through an 800 number — get hit by robocallers the same way consumers do. They can’t afford to have their lines tied up by automated calls, so they turn to Foss’ company for relief.

David Lazarus, columnist for the L.A. Times, advocates a far more personal, more low-tech approach to stopping unwanted calls, which he calls “a little kooky but effective.”

The idea was suggested to him by a Texas reader who pretends to respond enthusiastically to phone solicitors. “Tell me more,” he says when the pitchman comes on the line. “Give me all the details.” From that point on, the Texan’s only goal is to keep the pitchman on the line as long as possible.

Asked to give a credit card number, the Texas man gives a false one, then relaxes while the pitchman attempts to confirm it. When it cannot be confirmed, he transposes a few digits, re-submits it, and rests again while the pitchman struggles to confirm the second number. Eventually the Texan, when through toying with his victim, invites the telemarketer to call again the next day, so they can try again.

In a later column, Lazarus, who calls this strategy a “reverse scam,” invited readers to submit more strategies for making the lives of telemarketers a living hell.

A man in Glendale, Calif., submitted his strategy, which involves telling a pitchmen that he needs to get a pen and paper, then disappears for a bit. When he returns, he says he needs to get his wallet from the other room. Gosh, he says when he returns, that darn wallet must be in the car. Can you hold on a minute while I get it? And so on. He says with pride that while he’s never gotten to the 30-minute mark with a telemarketer, he’s often broken 20.

Telemarketers, notes Lazarus, are not fools. They don’t want to waste their time any more than do consumers. After realizing they’ve been tricked into sticking with a fruitless call, they don’t want to make the same mistake again. So, they stop calling, he said.

Consumers seeking further inspiration how they can prank telemarketers can find on YouTube in videos posted by comedian Tom Mabe, who has made a science of it.