How to … get rid of telemarketers

Annoying, unsolicited phone calls can be stopped. Here’s how.

I got rid of the home phone years ago. The family had got to the stage where all members had a mobile phone and the only calls on the landline were from telemarketers. But I’m surprised that close to 70 per cent of households still have a landline. And still report being harassed by telemarketers.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said there were 28,200 complaints about telemarketers in 2016–17, up by more than 5000 on the previous financial year. It also reported that an extra 375,000 numbers had been added to the Do Not Call Register – an increase of 3.5 per cent.

Of course, telemarketers always call around dinner time, because they know someone should be home by then. But it is beyond annoying. So how can you stop them?

1. Find out who is calling and block that number.
Open Google on your web browser. Type in ‘Who is calling me from’ and then enter the number you want to identify. If you don’t want to receive calls from this number, follow these steps to block the number on your smartphone.

2. Join the Do Not Call Register.
There are about 11 million mobile and landline numbers in Australia on the register which means that telemarketers should not call without your permission.

If you are on the register but have been harassed by a telemarketer, it may be because you inadvertently consented to being contacted by signing up to a newsletter, entering a competition, or filling out an online survey.

Jeremy Fenton, executive manager of the unsolicited communications branch at the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), said people who take part in competitions need to understand what they’re agreeing to. Always check the fine print.

3. Get a silent number.
We have good news and bad news on silent numbers – and a warning.

The good news is that Telstra made silent line services free in mid-February, dropping the $2.93 monthly charge. Optus does not charge for the service. The bad news is that in 2016–17, complaints about calls to silent numbers from telemarketers jumped 20 per cent.

4. Never give out your personal information.
Zac Gillam from the Consumer Action Law Centre told Fairfax Media that personal data should not be given out in any circumstance, “especially if you aren’t confident you know exactly what the company intends to do with it”.

“Be extremely wary of people seeming to offer something for nothing, especially if those people are after your details in exchange,” he said. “Your contact details are valuable and you need to protect them.”

5. Report offenders.
The ACMA can issue a formal warning, followed by an infringement notice, and if the matter persists, take the offender to court.

6. Know the rules.
It is illegal for telemarketing companies to call before 9am or after 8pm Monday to Friday, before 9am or after 5pm on Saturday, and never on Sundays and public holidays.

“Complaints from consumers are our key source of intelligence,” says Mr Fenton. “They allow us to identify serious compliance issues and investigate. Where we find breaches, the penalties can be significant.”

Do you have a landline? Do you know how to get rid of telemarketers?



    To make a comment, please register or login

    30th Sep 2018
    The first two options don't really work. Telemarketers vary the numbers they call from. And as for the Do Not Call Register, that works for within Australia, but many of the pests call from India.
    30th Sep 2018
    Correct. Also they still call despite being on the Do Not Call register.
    Perhaps the way forward is to jettison the home phone. We keep it on for no reason other than people who know our landline number and who would lose contact if we did the dead. Whilst we can let people know what we were planning there's always some who would be forgotten. That's our problem.

    I'd like to see ISPs block numbers reported to them. They won't and there lise the problem.
    30th Sep 2018
    I am surprised by Janelle's following statement "But I’m surprised that close to 70 % of households still have a landline. And still report being harassed by telemarketers".
    There is nothing wrong with people choosing to have both land lines and mobile phones, given that you can have a landline which cost you absolutely nothing whereas mobile phones are expensive to have and use.
    By the way blocking telemarketers is very very very simple.
    30th Sep 2018
    I think it is cheaper to have a mobile phone, $10 every 28 days unlimited calls, once you own you own phone, landline starts at $22 before you even make a call.
    Old Geezer
    4th Oct 2018
    Mine landline is free including free calls except 1300 numbers with my NBN so why not have it. Check your internet provider.
    10th Oct 2018
    You state that blocking telemarketers is very very simple.

    So far I have found absolutely no way to stop calls from the Philippines, Vietnam and India without blocking ALL overseas calls. I won't do that because I have family and friends overseas and it is important for us to maintain this way of contact.

    So, if you have a method of blocking telemarketers from the countries mentioned please share it with everybody.
    10th Oct 2018
    You can block the calls on your mobile by blocking each phone number after they ring it will show up on your phone, you should have a place to touch 'block'.
    30th Sep 2018
    It is LEGAL (not illegal) for them to call between 9am and 8am Monday to Friday, and between 9am and 5pm Saturday.
    30th Sep 2018
    LOL I noticed that. It didn't make sense at all :)
    30th Sep 2018
    Did you mean 9am to 8 pm?
    30th Sep 2018
    Annoying phone calls, yes... BUT interestingly enough when I did put my name and number on the Do Not Call Register a few months ago THE NUMBER OF CALLS WENT UP DRAMATICALLY. Perhaps there is some insider trading going on.. I wasn't getting very many but enough to annoy me, so I registered. Didn't work for me at all...
    30th Sep 2018
    Nothing stop the telemarketers, I don’t have a home line since 2003, I have registered my mobile number, but they still call anytime. The only thing you can do is blocking their numbers after you put up with the selling! You say NO and they talk in top of you! Just hang up and block the number!
    30th Sep 2018
    No matter what I do they still find me.. I had one mob ringing me at 3 am, 4 am - I reported them to the DNC register. I have blocked all overseas calls except for specific numbers of relatives etc. Easy to say get rid of the landline. I need mine because there is no mobile signal in my bedroom, and I have a heart condition. If I need to call an ambulance, need the landline. Also the telemarketers have discovered my mobile now. I just don't answer any calls on there if I don't recognise the number. How sad that we have to put up with this constant harassment now
    30th Sep 2018
    put the phone down, go away for about 10 minute. They usually aren't there when you check
    30th Sep 2018
    I now never get annoying cold calls. Solution? Its easy, we have a silent number, we are on the do not call register. I have a spare $15 a year phone in my car and whenever I have to needlessly give my phone number, that's the number I give. All this form data is on-sold to call centres so they can ring me as often as they like.
    30th Sep 2018
    The majority of calls now originate in India. ACMA say there is nothing they can do, why not work towards a new clause in every international treaty having these calls made illegal in the country of origin.

    Even when an Australian company called me 6 times in 48 hours despite being on the DNC Register, ACMA said it was not worth pursuing the company they would just record the complaint. That seems to be like the evidence of poor regulation by ASIC and APRA adduced in the banking Royal Commision, lax enforcement allows breaches to occur. Regulators should use the legislation they have to pursue these pests, no more cautions.... take them to court.
    30th Sep 2018
    Chop the 'global economy' off at the knees and restore legitimacy and personal sovereignty to your own nationals - you pack of thieving dogs in Cambra...

    That's just me being nice...

    "Attention, unidentified call from Faroffland - you are trespassing on Australian cyberspace - please turn away immediately or risk being shot down"...
    30th Sep 2018
    Easy, just ask them what they do when telemarketers ring them when it is inconvenient, and when they say they just hang up, just say "like this" and do the same!
    30th Sep 2018
    Dot points:
    1. - most times it is a private number.

    2. - Good idea. I wish charities were on the list too as oldies with dementia are a very soft touch when it comes to donating money.

    3. Getting a silent number is a waste of time because they auto dial. I will not answer any private number. They have to leave a message.

    4. Just try making a purchase or doing anything without being forced to give over your number. Even getting ot the Myhealth record or getting a CTP rebate required giving away volumes of personal data.

    4. Report offenders - who to? They are often overseas telemarketers and there is no global law.

    5. Bahaha - see dot point 4. Best solution. Don't pick up the phone unless you know who is calling. If they don't leave a message it wasn't important anyway.
    30th Sep 2018
    The problem with mobile only phones is that if anyone wants to ring you from their landline the cost can be quite high, I remember years ago there was a huge outcry when telsta floated the idea of timed calls, now everyone is on board with timed calls, they might be hidden in the sales pitch of the telco’s, free calls and text when you sign up for a plan, nothing in life is free.
    30th Sep 2018
    Most calls to mobile phones from landlines are capped so if you stay in within the cap range it is not too bad.
    30th Sep 2018
    I think it must depend on who you are with, my wife called her friends mobile, she was on the phone for about 20 mins, the call cost was about $17:00, we are with Optus for our landline, her friend was with Telstra for her mobile, this occurred about 18 months ago so I don’t know if anything has changed since then.
    30th Sep 2018
    You need to read the fine print Jim, it does differ from each Telco, I am trying to find a way to make it cheaper for my 82 mum who does not have a mobile, her worry is that she will lose contact with lots of people who have her number and having to go to the bother of letting everyone know including medical and government departments. Currently trying to find out if there is a service to transfer calls to mobile when you cut off landline.
    30th Sep 2018
    We treat telemarker calls as opportunities to think of innovative ways to tell them to get lost, and then delight in their stunned and/or stumbling responses.
    The simplest response apart from just hanging up on them is "You need to speak with my wife/husband - I'll just get them for you" (and then walk away from the phone for half an hour or so); but you can have lots of fun by engaging them in seemingly interested conversation about their products that progresses to increasingly inane questions such as "But does (the product) affect the ability of sunflowers to grow on bacon sandwiches?" etc etc.
    You hopefully get my drift - it can be great fun if you've got a few minutes to spare!
    30th Sep 2018
    Most of the calls to my landline are from charities trying to sting you for donations - especially annoying because they try to con you into signing up to a monthly sum! The DNC register is useless for this mob, because charities are exempt and can call you any time they like. I agree with all the other comments about those overseas callers, can't stop them because they autodial. Most of those are trying on a scam - amazing how many calls I get claiming to be from Telstra and telling me my computer has faults lol, since Telstra isn't even my provider! Interestingly, I've had a few lately that claim there is now a facility for my ISP to block calls on the landline. Then they want to know the expiry date of you credit card [harmless], followed by the nonsense that your credit card will be your ID for the blocking service [oh lol! Suuuuure it is!]. But just hanging up on them is fine - I always answer calls on the landline because some friends and family hide their numbers for business reasons when they call, and occasionally I tease the scammers a bit before I hang up :)
    30th Sep 2018
    Just block them! My calls have dropped dramatically since I started blocking.
    30th Sep 2018
    Just block them you say. With a landline that is simply not possible with calls that originate outside Australia unless you block all international calls.

    I gather there is some way that you can make an exception for family calls etc. People who write in about these matters make pronouncements but seldom share the important "how to" details. Pity.

    I have found that most telemarketers will test to see if a line is active or not round midday. The calls come around 7 pm. I simply do not answer the phone then knowing that my friends will leave a message or try my mobile if the call is urgent.
    30th Sep 2018
    Sorry should have specified my comment was for mobiles, have no idea about landline, been too long since I had one.
    30th Sep 2018
    Register with the DNCR to stop calls from Australian lines, then call your Telco to bar overseas Incoming calls for the ones coming fro overseas.
    30th Sep 2018
    It is pretty obvious when a TM calls because there is usually a delay and then when the call connects you can hear the other TMers in the background. I love to answer, quickly say, sorry, can you hold on a second and then leave the caller hanging until they give up.
    30th Sep 2018
    Can't expect to get rid of these, when politicians behave in the same way around election time invading privacy by leaving long recorded messages.

    I just don't answer the phone unless somebody leaves a message on my answering machine.
    Its a bit of a nuisance to have to do this, because many small businesses I need, get stage fright if they have to leave a recorded message.
    30th Sep 2018
    Forgot to mention, the indian scam artist is a world wide problem..

    Utube is full of examples of people trying to get rid of them, like home remedies for cockroaches.
    30th Sep 2018
    Yes I have a landline, but NO I don't get calls from telemarketers and NOT because I'm on the Do Not Call register or have a silent number. My solution is even simpler, if I don't recognize the number calling I simply don't pick up and if there is no message left leaving details of who they are and why they're calling, I don't return the call. Some people seem to think it's 'rude' not to pick up one's phone when it rings, but I don't think it's any ruder than a person choosing to ring when one is busy!
    30th Sep 2018
    We have a landline and it is very necessary as we live in a mobile blackspot. As we are in a rural area we'll probably still be waiting for mobile coverage this time next year :-)
    30th Sep 2018
    Telcos should compensate for this, having to pay for a landline is more expensive.
    30th Sep 2018
    I ask them what they have to offer. If it is financial service, I tell them I am glad that they called as I have just been declared a bankrupt. Then I tell them I could sure use some money. About $20,000 to be exact. Then I as if they do interest free loans. Usually they lose interest then and hang up.
    30th Sep 2018
    Want a way to stop Telemarketers?
    Tell them you are recording their voice.
    I said this a few times and no more calls.
    30th Sep 2018
    As soon as they ask if a certain person lives at this number.......I just say, "Telstra technical department" and they bugger off!
    1st Oct 2018
    It is OK if yBou can get mobile phone cover -which we don't have. For disabled/invalids a land line is comforting.
    On the Ball
    1st Oct 2018
    Having an answering machine is your own worst enemy - in a way.
    A lot of the calls are autodialers that just call numbers from the phone book. If there is an answer (any answer) the autodialer logs you as at home at that time of day.
    That information is sold on to telemarketing companies, ie what time you are at home (yes, you dont have to be home for the answering machine to answer, but the system still thinks you answered).

    Now, regarding dot point two in the article:
    "If you are on the register but have been harassed by a telemarketer, it may be because you inadvertently consented to being contacted by signing up to a newsletter, entering a competition, or filling out an online survey."

    I have mentioned this MANY times both in this site and many others. The newsletters or competitions or online surveys are often ON THIS VERY SITE! Click on the hearing aid reviews. Follow the links to where you can read the terms and conditions!
    1st Oct 2018
    I have found the Do Not Call Register to be nothing more than a paper tiger. I was getting at least two calls a week from people selling solar panels, I told them I would report them for ignoring the fact that I was listed on the register and carried through with the threat, but no result, the calls kept coming.
    In desperation I feigned interest when one call arrived and within half an hour I received a call from a local installer of solar panels. So I complained to him that his agents were in breach of the law by ringing numbers on the Do Not Call Register, and informed him that I would report the matter, which I did. Nothing happened, the calls keep coming regularly.
    Big Kev
    2nd Oct 2018
    I find it's not just the landline it is also the mobile. And nearly all are from overseas. I use the option of asking to speak to their supervisor or telling them I'm on the other phone, can I get their number and call back. Quick hangups. Also beware people saying they are from Microsoft. I had reported an issue with Windows and got a call a few days after that. Microsoft do not ring back. The scammers put a Trojan virus on my computer and I had to change all my passwords.
    3rd Oct 2018
    According to a relative of mine a claxton horn does the trick
    3rd Oct 2018
    I still use a landline a lot, but I only answer it if I recognise the number, or it is a mobile calling. If i inadvertently pick up a TM, I just make totally irrelevant comments like "Something wrong with my computer? Yes, the wheels fell off and I had to throw it out." and "Yes, but will that stop the cat from eating it?", or "But will that stop me falling down the stairs after I drink too much?" The calls tend not to last long, it leaves a scammer scratching his head, and I have had a bit of fun. No point in growing old gracefully!
    Old Geezer
    4th Oct 2018
    Scamsters have found another way to rob you of your money.

    They are sending out SMS messages saying your bank account has been blocked and to fix it to click a link or go and see them at your local branch.

    They are very clever as they know people won't go to their local branch but will instead click on the link.

    NAB have quite a good read on this.
    Old Geezer
    4th Oct 2018
    Yeah right get a silent number. Problem is no one wants to answer your call. When I had NBN installed they made my number silent and even my family would not answer their phone when I rang them.
    6th Oct 2018
    NBN does not make your number silent. You have to request it. They give you a choice.

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