Data Doctor: Web sites can aid the mission of the Do Not Call list - East Valley Tribune: Business

Data Doctor: Web sites can aid the mission of the Do Not Call list

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Posted: Saturday, July 5, 2008 10:32 pm | Updated: 10:37 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q. I keep getting phone calls from automated telemarketing systems even though I registered my number on the Do Not Call list. Can I look these numbers up on the Internet to find out who these people are and report them? — Allen

Q. I keep getting phone calls from automated telemarketing systems even though I registered my number on the Do Not Call list. Can I look these numbers up on the Internet to find out who these people are and report them? — Allen

A. When the government announced the creation of a national Do Not Call registry (www.donotcall.gov) as a means to reduce telephone solicitations, many cheered their efforts.

While creating this system helped in the beginning, the bad guys have been constantly looking for loopholes to get around the system.

Some are moving their operations offshore and using inexpensive Internet-based phone technology to continue to harass you. In these cases (and at this point they are rare), the Do Not Call list is a treasure trove of telephone numbers for those who have no intention of observing the U.S. regulations.

U.S.-based firms are skirting the law by setting up elaborate “affiliate networks” that exploit the provision in the system that allows businesses with a “previous business relationship” to contact you up to 18 months after the last contact, payment or delivery of a product or service.

Some have even set up complex contest offers in shopping malls and sporting events to get people to essentially sign away their rights to the Do Not Call registration.

Others are using call blocking so you can’t figure out who they are and where they are calling from.

Legally, those conducting surveys, nonprofit organizations or political solicitations are permissible even though you registered your number on the list. The latest scam is posing as an organization that is taking a survey in hopes of opening the door to a solicitation by asking if they can call you back.

Another area where they can still bug you is at your business. The Do Not Call list is designated for consumers only, so business-to-business calls are still going to occur. And that may include your cell phone.

There are a number of Internet resources for determining who is calling you, but be very careful where you go. There are many Web sites that will charge you to determine who a phone number belongs to, even though you can get what you need for free. I prefer sites with information from others who have gotten the same call as you (based on the caller ID number being the same) and have already done the homework for you.

Check out sites like www.callercomplaints.com and www.800notes.com to quickly determine if you are getting the same calls as others and what they have determined them to be.

Another way to fight the automated telemarketing companies is to put a special tone that sounds like the “disconnect” sound at the beginning of your voice-message greeting. This will tell an automated system that the number has been disconnected and to remove it from their list. But humans will hear your answering message and realize that it is valid.

You can download the “disconnect” sound file from our site at www.datadoctors.com/disconnect.wav.

You can report anyone that you think is violating the Do Not Call registry parameters by clicking on the File a Complaint link at www.donotcall.gov.

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