These tips are suggested for discouraging phone solicitors.
Some people register their numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry but many people complain this service has not been consistent, and some (or many) telemarketing calls still get through.
The best remedy for eliminating or greatly reducing the calls you get from telemarketers is to NEVER talk to them. Never pick up the phone when they call, or if you do, IMMEDIATELY hang up. Do not be “nice” about it. Do not wait until they pause (they are often trained NOT to pause so you can’t get a word in edgewise).
The longer you are on the call, the more the solicitor will call you back. Call centers keep track of how long you hang on the call before you finally say goodbye or hang up. If you consistently refuse to answer those calls or hang up immediately, your number gets pushed further and further down the list of potential sales opportunities, and you will get fewer and fewer calls from these companies. This is a proven method for reducing or eliminating unwanted sales calls.
Other types of solicitation calls are from salespeople who are looking to set up an appointment at your house to “inspect” something or show you the product in person. These people often prey on the elderly, using sales tactics that insinuate that they are from some sort of official entity, like a local government building authority. And sometimes, they are not salespeople at all – they are merely would-be burglars who seek to determine when you are home and what kind of items you have in your home. Their plan, of course, is to come back when you are not there and steal whatever you have of value. Or maybe push their way into your home while you ARE there, and steal from you or even harm you.
If you have elderly parents who might be confused or pressured by telemarketers or phone-call scammers (or teenage/pre-teen children who might answer the phone), here are some suggestions:
For a landline:
- Get caller ID service put on their line and get them a phone which will display the number calling.
- Get voicemail on their line or get them a traditional answering machine.
For a cell phone:
- Almost all cell phones come with caller ID & voicemail already.
Then tell your elderly parents (and your kids):
- When the phone rings, BEFORE PICKING UP, look at the number calling in. If you don’t recognize the number, do NOT pick up the phone. Let the call roll over to voicemail.
- Wait about 2 minutes*, then check the voicemail.
* Note – Most service providers offer a message waiting indicator (sometimes for an additional fee but it’s worth it) – a flashing light on the phone and/or a stutter tone. With a message waiting indicator, you don’t have to “guess” if someone left a message – just wait for the flashing light to come on, or listen for a stutter tone when you pick up the phone a few minutes after the call came in. That will indicate a message waiting.
If using a traditional answering machine, you will be able to hear the person leaving the message, so you can pick up while they are talking and not have to call them back.
- When checking the voicemail, if the message is from someone you know, you can immediately return the call.
- If it is from someone you do not know or if you are unsure, call a friend or family member to see what they think – to see if they think it might be a telemarketer or scammer.
It is recommended that you:
- NEVER EVER EVER call these solicitors back unless you have confirmation from a trusted friend or family member that the call is legitimate, and if you truly are interested in the product or service.
- And NEVER EVER EVER let a salesperson or anyone from any company come to your house and do any kind of inspection or in-home sales call or anything like that if you did not call them and request their service ahead of time.
Callers (at the door or on the phone) who are aggressive in their tactics and “won’t take no for an answer” may be either:
- Con Artists trying to sucker you into spending money on a substandard (or non-existent!) product or service. They can’t get customers on good word-of-mouth or traditional advertising, so they have to aggressively push people into a sale.
- Burglars who are trying to find out when you’re typically home at that time, and (if at the door), look past you to see what kind of things you have in your home, so they can break in later when you’re not there and steal from you.
In the case of salespeople, if you sincerely have an interest in the company and its products or services, you may want to follow the recommendations in the Squelch Solicitation article on this website about acquiring all the company’s contact info first, doing some online research (or having someone do it for you), and talking to friends, family members and neighbors before making a decision.
In the case of burglars, some people are afraid that if they don’t answer the phone, a burglar will think you’re not home and attempt a break-in. But if you ALWAYS pick up the phone when home, then some burglars may be able to figure out that when you don’t pick up, you’re not home. If you’re home, with a car in the drive and/or the lights on, and you always screen your calls, it will become obvious to anyone watching that there are plenty of times when you ARE home that you DON’T pick up the phone. So they won’t be able to establish reliable information of “they pick up = they’re home” and “they don’t pick up = they’re not home.”
Remember these three easy tips:
- Get caller ID & voicemail.
- If you do not recognize the number calling in, DO NOT PICK UP. Let the call roll to voicemail and check it after a minute or two. If it’s someone you know, you can call them right back.
- If you DO pick up and hear someone launch into a solicitation, IMMEDIATELY HANG UP. DO NOT BE POLITE. DO NOT LINGER on the line. DO NOT SAY A WORD. JUST HANG UP. The longer you are on, the more they will call you back.