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Ask Kim

How to Stop Telemarketing Calls

Add your number to the Do Not Call Registry. And if you get a robocall, just hang up.

I’ve been getting a lot more telemarketing calls recently, even though I signed up for the Do Not Call Registry a few years ago. Do I need to renew my number on the list?

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Registration in the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call list doesn’t expire after a certain time period, so you shouldn’t have to do anything unless you’ve moved or changed phone numbers. But it’s a good idea to check whether your number is still in the registry at If it isn’t, it’s easy to add your number at the site, and it should show up on the registry by the next day. Most sales calls will stop after your number has been in the registry for 31 days. There were more than 217 million numbers in the Do Not Call Registry as of September 2014.

Adding your name to the list won’t stop all unwanted calls, though. The Do Not Call Registry only prohibits sales calls, but you may still receive political calls, surveys, calls from charities or calls from companies you’ve done business with during the past 18 months. You may also get calls from companies you’ve asked for more information or applied for credit within the past three months. If you have an established relationship with a company, it must stop making telemarketing calls to you if you ask to be put on its company-specific do-not-call list.

Most telemarketing sales calls are illegal to cell phones, even if you aren’t on the Do Not Call Registry (although it doesn’t hurt to add your cell number to the list). See Cell Phones and the Do Not Call Registry for more information.


It’s likely that the new telemarketing calls you’re receiving are prerecorded robocalls, and signing up for the Do Not Call Registry won’t stop them because they’re illegal--although some non-sales robocalls, such as surveys or political calls, are permitted. “Robocalls trying to sell you something are almost always illegal, whether or not your phone number is on the Do Not Call Registry,” says Bikram Bandy, the Do Not Call program coordinator for the Federal Trade Commission. “More than half of the complaints we receive each month are about robocalls.”

What can you do to stop telemarketing robocalls? “Just hang up,” says Bandy. Don’t press anything, even if the recording says to press a certain number to opt out and stop receiving calls in the future. “When you press a number on the phone, it’s showing that you’re home this time of day and you did something to interact with the phone. If the next telemarketing operation is looking to make calls, they’re going to prioritize those numbers.” And don’t respond to an offer on a robocall, no matter how intriguing it might sound. “If they’re trying to contact you through illegal means, they’re probably going to scam you,” says Bandy.

Instead, you should report the call to the Federal Trade Commission or at The FTC has brought several large cases against robocall firms over the past few years and has been able to return more than $24 million to consumers who bought fraudulent products as a result of a robocall.

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