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Know Your Rights

The federal government's Do Not Call (DNC) Registry allows you to permanently restrict telemarketing calls by registering your phone number at donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222. If you receive telemarketing calls after your number has been in the national registry for three months, you can file a complaint using the same web page and toll-free number.

The Federal Trade Commission advises that it is not necessary to register cell phone numbers on the DNC Registry despite e-mail claims circulating on the Internet telling you to do so.

Placing your number on this national registry will stop most telemarketing calls, but not all of them. Calls that are still permitted include those from:

  • Political Organizations
  • Charities
  • Telephone surveyors
  • Some insurance situations
  • Organizations with which you have a relationship

A Federal Trade Commission rule defines what telemarketers can and cannot do when making a sales call. Callers must:

  • Provide the seller's name.
  • Disclose that the call is a sales call.
  • Tell you exactly what they're trying to sell.
  • Disclose the total cost and other terms of sale before you make any payment for the goods or services
  • Tell you if they don't allow refunds, exchanges or cancellations

If a prize is involved, the caller must give you the odds of winning, inform you that no purchase is necessary, and tell you how to get instructions for entering without buying anything. It's illegal for telemarketers to:

  • Misrepresent what they're offering.
  • Call before 8 am or after 9 pm
  • Threaten, intimidate or harass you, or call again if you ask them not to.

This FTC rule applies even when you receive a call from a telemarketer in another state or country. It also applies if you make a call to a company in another state or country in response to a mail solicitation.

The rule generally does not apply when you call to order from a catalog or in response to an ad on television or radio, or in a magazine or newspaper. It also does not apply to solicitations you receive by fax or e-mail. Be aware that certain types of businesses, including nonprofit organizations, investment brokers and advisors, banks and financial institutions, are exempt from the rule.

If you get a phone call from someone who says they are with your bank and/or credit company and they ask you to provide or confirm any personal information:

  • Do NOT answer any questions.
  • Hang up immediately.
  • Call your bank or credit company directly and tell them what happened.

How To File A Complaint About A Sales Call

If you think a sales call is in violation of the Federal Trade Commission rule and want to file a complaint, use the online resource.

Text Message Spam

Spam text messages can be annoying, but did you know they are illegal? Some common scams use text message spam to lure you into revealing personal information in exchange for a “free gift”, like a gift card or vacation package.
How it works: In order to collect your gift, the message will instruct you to reply to the text with your personal information such as a bank account or your social security number. The spammer may charge your bank account so you can claim your “free gift” that you will probably never receive. In certain situations, spammers then sell your personal information to outside parties, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft.

Take these steps to limit your chances of getting scammed:

  • Register your number on the National Do Not Call List.
  • Delete spams messages.
  • Never click on links provided in spam messages. Links often carry malware or send you to fake websites.
  • Never reply to these texts or give out your personal information.
  • Report the text spam to your cell phone carrier by forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM).
  • Report any unwanted commercial text messages to the Federal Trade Commission.