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Discovery October/November 1999

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On the Web
Web Sources Can Help Turn Off the Telemarketers



telemarketers by Jan Zauha

You've been anticipating dinner with your family all day. Just as you sit down, the phone rings. As you listen to dead airspace, the hallmark of the computerized phone connection, your blood pressure goes up several notches. Thanks to the automated world of telemarketing, your temper has gotten hotter and your food colder.

Rather than listen helplessly as technology and commerce invade your home, get on the Web and make a move toward uninterrupted dinners. Using services and advice offered through anti-telemarketing Web sites, you can take specific steps to remove your name from telephone and mailing lists. In addition, you can tap into potentially helpful advice and legal information and discover the dark world of anti-marketing humor, frustrations, and stories.

To begin your quest for the quiet evening, see Junkbusters www.junkbusters.com. A no-frills site, Junkbusters prides itself on providing free help to consumers who wish to reduce all forms of junk mail and calls. Its methods include a declaration form where consumers can indicate kinds of marketing mail they are willing to receive, if any, and telephone numbers that may not be used for soliciting. The form also enables consumers to generate drafts of anti-junk letters to print and mail to direct marketers. Perhaps most useful of all, Junkbusters provides an anti-telemarketing script www.junkbusters.com/ht/en/script.html., including a list of questions and magic words that should ensure placement on a no-call list - and legal options if the script does not work.

Other Web sites provide information about consumer rights and protection measures without offering specific services. The Federal Communications Commission [www.fcc.gov] gives extensive information on the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) [www.fcc.gov/ccb/consumer_news/tcpa.html].

The FCC has also posted a Consumer News fact sheet titled "What You Can Do About Unsolicited Telephone Marketing Calls and Faxes" http://www.fcc.gov/ that clearly explains the FCC's Do-Not-Call-Rules and lists steps you can take if the rules are broken. The consumer information organization at Consumer. net consumer.net offers some state-specific protection information, including measures that you can take in Montana to limit marketers' access to your personal information.

Annoyance isn't the only problem with telephone solicitation. The Federal Trade Commission [www.ftc.gov] provides consumer protection publications focused on bogus loans, prizes, and other telemarketing scams [www.ftc.gov/bcp/menu-tmark.htm]. If you find that a fraudulent telemarketer has duped you or that your attempts to end calls from specific entities are ignored, sites such as the TCPA Legal Resources Center [www.tcpalaw.com] and the Nolo SelfHelp Law Center www.nolo.com may be helpful.

Beyond the serious advice and services offered on the Web, anti-telemarketing rants, jokes, and tricks are abundant. Read the story of Max, the cat with great credit web2.airmail.net/gavaghan/maxscard.html. Learn the rules of the Telemarketers Annoyance Game, Yahoo!'s Anti-Telemarketing directory or Karen's Koncepts Anti-Telemarketer and Anti-Spam page provide ample avenues of exploration. You'll find many more links and discover just how annoyed some consumers are - comforting, if you thought yours was the only dinner getting cold.

For help locating more information on this or other topics, call or stop in at the Renne Library reference desk.

Jan Zauha is a reference librarian and the Electronic Information Coordinator for the MSU Libraries.

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© 2000 Montana State University-Bozeman

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