Consumer Publications List
Tired of annoying
telemarketing calls and junk mail filling your mailbox? There are steps you can
take to get off the lists for these calls and mailings. You won't be able to
stop all of them, but you will be able to reduce the number you
1. Keep your
phone number to yourself. Don't put your phone numbers on forms, or give it
to businesses, unless absolutely necessary. Whenever you give a business your
number, ask that they not share it with other companies. Don't print your phone
number on your checks.
2. Register with
the National Do Not Call Registry. The Federal Government created this
national registry. Call toll-free 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236) from the
number you wish to register. You can also register online at www.donotcall.gov if you have an active
e-mail address. Registration is free. Your number will stay in the registry for
five years, until it is disconnected, or until you delete it from the registry.
After five years, you may renew your registration. You can expect fewer calls
within three months of the date you sign up for the registry.
Placing your number
on the National Do Not Call Registry will stop most telemarketing calls, but not
all. You may still receive calls from political organizations, charities,
telephone surveyors, and companies with which you have an existing business
relationship. A company with which you have an established business relationship
may call you for up to 18 months after your last purchase or delivery from it,
or your last payment to it, unless you ask the company not to call again. Also,
if you make an inquiry to a company or submit an application to it, for three
months afterwards the company can call you. If you make a specific request to
that company not to call you, however, then the company may not call
3. Ask to be put
on individual companies' "do not call" lists. When you get a telemarketing
call, if you just hang up or say "I'm not interested," the company may call back
at another time. Instead, every time you get a telemarketing call, say "Put me
on your 'do not call' list." The Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of
1991 requires companies to keep this list. Your request must be honored for 10
years. Exception: nonprofit organizations do not have to comply with this
4. Get an
unlisted number. Getting an unlisted number can cut down on telemarketing
calls. It will not prevent calls from companies that dial numbers in sequential
order by computer.
5. Be aware that
phone technology allows companies to see and "capture" the numbers of
callers. Some companies add the numbers to a marketing list. At no cost, you
can block your number from being displayed by dialing *67 and waiting for a dial
tone before making a call. However, this "per call blocking" does not work when
calling 800 or 900 numbers. Your only alternative is to use a pay phone when
dialing those numbers.
6. Screen calls
and hang up on auto-dialers. If all else fails, you can avoid having to talk
with telemarketers by using an answering machine to "screen"your calls befor
eyou decide to pick up. Many telemarketers hang up if they reach a machine.
Also, learn to recognize the sounds of an auto-dialer: you answer your phone and
there is a pause. If you don't want to be connected to a sales representative,
just hang up. Different people find different ways of dealing with
telemarketers. For example, you may be content to avoid sales discussions by
hanging up on auto-dialers. Another person may be so annoyed that he will stay
on the line in order to tell the caller he wants to be put on the company's "do
not call" list.
1. Register with
the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service. You can get off
many national mailing lists this way. Your name will remain on this "delete
file" for five years. Send your name and address to: DMA Mail Preference
Service, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.
2. Tell the
credit reporting agencies that you don't want to receive pre-approved offers of
credit. Those credit card offers that come in the mail are from companies
who get your name and address from one of the credit reporting agencies. You can
tell all three of the major credit reporting agencies-Equifax, Experian and
TransUnion-to remove your name from their mailing list by calling one toll-free
number, 1-888-5-OPT-OUT. Your request will be honored for two years.
magazines and charities that you don't want them to share your name and address
with other businesses or charities. Contact magazines to which you subscribe
and charities to which you donate. Request the same from mail order companies
you order from and cancel catalogs you don't use.
4. Read the
privacy policies of your credit cards and banks. The policies must give you
an "opt-out" option, by which you can tell the bank not to share your personal
information with other companies. The bank may still be allowed to share your
information with "affiliate" companies it has a relationship with.
5. Ask your
local phone company to not publish your address. Mailing list companies
compile names and addresses from residential phone book listings. Consider
having an unlisted number, or ask your local phone company to publish just your
name and telephone number, without an address. Ask the phone company to remove
your listing from its street address directory.
6. Think twice
before entering sweepstakes and drawings. The main purpose of many contests
is to compile mailing lists. If you enter one contest, you are likely to receive
mailings from other contests. Avoid entering sweepstakes unless you can
"opt-out" of being put on a mailing list (read the contest rules).
7. Don't fill
out warranty or product registration cards. Most cards are used to compile
information on consumers that is sold to companies for marketing purposes. Most
times your receipt will ensure that you are covered by the product warranty if
the item turns out to be defective. If you decide to send in the card, don't
fill out the "lifestyle" information, such as your income or hobbies.
8. Send it
back. Junk mail that arrives in envelopes stamped "Address Correction
Requested" or "Return Postage Guaranteed" can be returned unopened by writing
"Refused-Return to Sender" on the envelope. This may encourage the company that
mailed it to you to remove you from its mailing list.
Read more about
your rights under the Telephone Customer Protection Act at the Federal
Communications Commission website at www.fcc.gov/cib/
Read about how to
avoid telemarketing fraud at the Federal Trade Commission website at www.ftc.gov
Maryland Attorney General's Consumer Protection
DivisionConsumer hotline: (410) 528-8662 or 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free
200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202
410-576-6300 / 1-888-743-0023 toll-free / TDD: 410-576-6372