This guide outlines to stop harassing phone calls, the steps you can take and how to report them to the proper authorities.
You’re relaxing at home, reading a new book that you just can’t put down and, all of a sudden, the phone rings. While you don’t want to be disturbed, you feel it may be an important call. You check the Caller ID, and it displays a name and number you’re not familiar with. When you answer, you realize that it’s someone who has called before, many times, with harassing phone calls. This is despite the fact that your Caller ID was displaying a different name and number.
The problem is, this happens to people every single day, multiple times each day. In fact, there are 159 million robocalls made each day – that’s 1,911 calls per second – around the country. It’s annoying, inconvenient – and in many cases, it’s illegal. One company was sued for making over 15 million calls per day. The good news is you don’t have to put up with them, because there are many methods for how to stop unwanted phone calls.
How to stop harassing phone calls: first steps
Check the number
The first thing you should do after receiving harassing phone calls is to check the number. Many companies who do not follow the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) rules mask the real number they’re calling from using specialized software. They could even be calling from a different country – and not the area code that is displayed on your Caller ID.
Enter the caller’s name or number in Nuwber and it will provide you with publicly available information on the caller. If the information doesn’t match up with the name or number on the Caller ID, you know it’s a robocall or other type of harassing phone call. If you do happen to answer the phone and a “live” person is on the line, never talk into the phone or respond to anything the caller says. That’s what they’re looking for – to get you angry and responding in a way that brings them delight. Don’t give them that satisfaction – just hang up.
Know your rights
The FTC has created the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which provides you with many safeguards and protections from harassing phone calls. It’s all thanks to consumers who began complaining about all the debt collection and telemarketing calls that they were forced to put up with each day.
So, what are your rights? First and foremost, no business or organization can call your cell phone without first getting your permission. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a business, a political organization, or a survey or poll – if there’s no prior permission, they simply can’t call. The same rule applies to your home-landline phone, but you may receive automated or other calls from political organizations and surveys. Here’s something else – the same rule applies to texting.
Another right you have is that you can cancel or revoke the company or organization’s permission to call you at any time you choose. And despite what someone may tell you, you don’t have to send a letter or fill out any specific form to revoke that permission. How to deal with a bully at work: the 5 steps
The FTC says you simply need to inform the caller in a “reasonable way”. So, sending a text or just telling them via phone is all you need to do. There are no hoops to jump through to stop those annoying calls.
‘Do Not Call’ registries
You may have heard about a “do not call registry”. You can sign up for free, and your “do not call” mandate will apply to both your landline and cell phone. If you’re still receiving annoying phone calls after 31 days from signing up, you can file a complaint with the FTC.
There are other registries, like “nomorobo” and others. Some charge a small fee for cell phones and don’t charge to register for landline phones, but they’re all pretty effective at blocking unwanted calls. One thing you need to remember: legitimate businesses and organizations will abide by the rules of the TCPA, but there are many nefarious and foreign companies who don’t bother to check the do not call registries, and ignore them even if they did. How to protect digital machine identity
How to stop harassing phone calls: Stopping debt collection harassment calls
Debt collectors have additional rules they must follow. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was developed to prevent debt collectors from abusing consumers. Prior to the enactment of that act, debt collectors would call people at 6:30 in the morning or 10 at night, and would call dozens or more times each day. Not any longer!
Debt collectors can’t call before 8 am or after 9 pm. They can’t call you at work if you tell them they’re not allowed to, they can’t be threatening or abusive to you on the phone and they can’t call you multiple times each day. In fact, you have the right to tell them not to call you at all, and they must honor that request.
Be aware that some debt collection calls are merely a ruse to steal your identity. Make sure the debt is legitimate by checking your credit report to ensure it’s up-to-date and accurate. You’re able to get a free annual credit report each year by applying online, or from any of the top credit bureaus, including TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. How to block emails on iPhone and iPad: iOS, iCloud, Gmail, Outlook
Taking legal action
You have the right to sue a telemarketer or debt collector if they violate any of the laws protecting you. Keep records of every call you receive, obtain phone records to verify the calls, save any voicemails you receive and save any letters you send asking a company or organization to stop calling. There are many TCPA lawyers who have experience suing telemarketers and debt collectors, and if they harass you, don’t hesitate to take legal action against them.
Following these tips and tactics will help to stop those annoying phone calls and prevent harassment by phone that happens far too often. It’s time to put telemarketers and debt collectors in their place.