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Defend Yourself Against Telemarketer Tricks

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    Signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry is not enough to protect millions of us from unwanted telemarketing and robocalls. But new web-based tools promise to help block the dreaded phone calls once and for all. Randy Mac reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6, 2015. (Published Wednesday, May 6, 2015)

    Signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry is not enough to protect millions of us from unwanted telemarketing and robocalls. But new web-based tools promise to help block the dreaded phone calls once and for all.

    Ontario resident Dean Drake is among many Southern Californians who feel they can’t escape the endless calls from telemarketers.

    “I’m absolutely frustrated every day,” Drake told the NBC4 I-Team. “I think it’s over, but then it starts back up again with a vengeance.”

    The former corrections officer says registering his number with the National Do Not Call Registry has been of little help.

    “I’ve probably filled out thousands of complaints and no one has ever contacted me,” Drake said. “I’m just kind of at a loss, you know? Where do I turn?”

    He’s not alone in his battle.

    The National Do Not Call Registry receives 200,000 complaints a month about telemarketers.

    While the registry gives consumers the right to opt out of unsolicited sales calls, the Federal Trade Commission says some telemarketers simply violate federal guidelines.

    Also, the law still allows political organizations, charities and companies you’ve done prior business with to access your number.

    Making matters worse: once strictly a landline issue, telemarketing calls and robocalls are now targeting more cellphones, simply because our mobile numbers are becoming increasingly public.

    “You put your phone number out there when you’re ordering something from the Internet, when you put it on your email signature, you’re going to get those calls,” said Jeff Stalnaker, CEO of PrivacyStar, an entrepreneur who developed an app aimed at helping consumers avoid unwanted calls on their mobile phones.

    Using nationwide data on known telemarketers, PrivacyStar (privacystar.com) notifies users in real-time when a telemarketer or other unwanted call is received.

    The app works just like a traffic light.

    “If (the screen flashes) green, it means we don’t know anything about this phone number, so you can answer it,” explained Stalnaker. “If it’s yellow, that means we’ve got some complaints. If it’s red, we’ve got a lot of data, we’re certain that this is a telemarketer or debt collector.”

    Nomorobo, (nomorobo.com) a free web-based service, offers a solution for landline users, by not only identifying those unwelcome telemarketing calls, but also intercepting the calls for you almost immediately.

    If you suspect an incoming telemarketing call, consumer advocates say the best option is not to answer. If you do pick up, quickly hang up the phone.

    Engaging with the callers, even if the message is recorded, can backfire, because it alerts the source of the call there’s a human on the other end, and could trigger future unsolicited calls.

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