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?
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