What can I do? How Do I Stop the Calls?

The most common questions I’ve received about the “Tom” calls relate to 1) stopping the relentless barrage of calls, often received on individual’s wireless phone,  and 2) what can they do to help with the overall effort to stop these calls. And to be clear, by “Tom” we mean any prerecorded, live, or agent assisted voice response call placed to sell monitored home security alarms.

Here are a few things to consider:

I am personally getting very few calls at this point. But I’ve spent hours and hours speaking with the offending organizations and now when I get a call from a robo-dialer, who still fails to identify themselves as required by law, when I’m transferred to the actual alarm dealer they just hang up. I presume they look at the number and it reflects some negative history and they just drop the call. But from a practical perspective here’s what you can do to limit the irritation:

ON YOUR WIRELESS PHONE

1. Add the offending number to your contact list as “Telemarketer1”, “TM2”, etc. or “Alarm Dialer1”, you get the idea.

2. Set the ring tone for that contact to silent (if available),  or record a few seconds of silence and add that sound file to your phone as a ring tone. Use that “silent” tone for these contacts.

3. You will eventually fill up your contacts but your phone won’t ring or otherwise alert you.

Here’s what you can do to both permanently stop the calls to your numbers, and help the larger  community effort as the same time:

ANSWER THE CALL

1. Follow whatever direction you receive, like “Press 1”,  to show interest. Get transferred to an actual dealer. You are NOT legally opting in, just trying to discover the identity of the alarm dealer in question. This information is critical in making a complaint and ultimately exposing the parties paying (indirectly perhaps) for these calls.

2. Listen to the pitch, but don’t fall for the claim that the caller is with GE Security, or Honeywell, or Monitronics. It’s really a dealer (authorized or not, licensed or not) who will make the deal happen, and they’ll need to set an appointment.

3. Don’t provide any specific identifying information like name, address just be general like “I’m in the Atlanta area”.

4. Sometimes you can say something like, “hey I’m on my cell phone and the battery is low, if I lose you what number can I call you back on?”…Often they’ll just say they’ll call you back, but press on nicely and they’ll generally give you a number. A Google search for that number will almost always reveal the dealer in question.

6. You can then hang up, pretending to have lost the signal, or dropped the call. They will almost always call back from the offending dealer, because they want to make a sale! You now have a Caller ID screen with the number of the actual local dealer trying to establish an appointment.

7. REPORT THAT INFORMATION HERE! Linking a call (with a picture of the Caller ID screen) to a specific dealer is very helpful.

8. Call that number back and ask for a manager, specifically telling them to place your number on their internal DO NOT CALL list.

9. Report the call to the FTC  , the Attorney General of your state, and your state telemarketing enforcement group like a Public Utilities Commission (Texas). But now you have the name of the party involved in a call, not just a phone number.

Yes, it requires a bit of effort, but if you’re visiting this site to find a solution, you’ve already reached your boiling point. Take a few minutes to help us with a permanent solution to this plague of calls.

UPDATE:

A reader provides this additional piece of information:

Telemarketers by law are required to have “a written policy, available upon demand, for maintaining a do-not-call list.” The DNC list this regulation refers to is the internal DNC list that each telemarketer is required to maintain where names and numbers of persons who no longer want to be called by that telemarketer are recorded. “Available upon demand” means that the telemarketer must promptly [i.e., within 15 days — 30 days has been held too long by at least one court] send a copy of their policy via US Mail, FedEx, UPS, etc. Do not give them your email address. Note they probably have your home address, but if you’re reluctant to give that out, a work address is fine to give out in the alternative. It seems that few telemarketers ever send the policy. By not sending the policy, the telemarketer probably loses the right to use the “the call was an inadvertent error” defense if sued by an individual or via a class action, or questioned/sued by the FTC/FCC.

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5 Responses to What can I do? How Do I Stop the Calls?

  1. John says:

    I highly recommend using “Mr. Number” app if you have an android phone. You can quickly add unknown numbers to a block list that will keep the phone silent and hang up on the robo-dialer

  2. Johnny Stewart says:

    I have tried this many times and they always just hangup on me. But, this is my fault and here is why I say that. Way back, when I decided to get more information from the (206-496-0952 & 202-719-0479) caller, I lost my temper. I did, however, get the girl to say her name ( ) and then she said she was with Honeywell. So I said, “So your not a Telemarketer in Oregen?”. I asked to speak to her supervisor. She said she has no supervisor, that she was indepedent. I ask her if she just did this for Honeywell out of the kindness of her heart. She was silent. I ask if she was doing this for free. She was silent. I said,”So you have no employer and no one pays you. Then she said that Honeywell payed her. At that point she hungup. Now when I get a call from 206-496-0952, I answer it and press “1”. As soon as they pickup, and before I say anything, they hangup. This has happened everyday for 3 weeks. I really screwed up. I still make my daily complait to the FTC Do Not Call website.

    Thaks for the information. Perhaps in the future I will get calls from a different number and will do exactly as you said do. Thaks very muck for what you are doing.

    Thanks and keep it up. Johnny Stewart

  3. I received a call from someone claiming to be from “Home Protection”. I think her name was Jane, but I don’t really recall for sure. She had me going for two minutes before I realized it was a bot. I felt pretty foolish. http://bit.ly/botcall

  4. bdimag says:

    I posted a while back about going through the call and setting up an appointment @ a McDonalds… Haven’t had a call since.

  5. doug brown says:

    I have had ISI Alarms calling me at the very least 30 times a month for the past three months. Today I tallked to a Kevin Klink whom claimed to be the VP Of Marketing. He promised again for the third time to place me on the DO NOT CALL LIST. His phone number is 704-204-5009 as of Dec 7, 2012. Call him soon before the number changes. I am looking for an address in GA so I can file a law suit in small claims court about phone harrassment. Any ideas. I have tried to set an appointment but they just hang up.

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