It’s safe to say that very few of us enjoy receiving solicitations over the phone. In fact, according to a recent study published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC),telemarketing calls are quickly becoming the largest consumer complaint in America. In addition, the FTC study shows that not only is telemarketing a nuisance, but it can also be dangerous – particularly for vulnerable elderly relatives who many not be able to detect a scam over the phone.
For many, the simplest solution to this problem is reminding an elderly loved one to check their caller ID and ignore a call if they don’t recognize the number. While this can be an effective strategy, it is unlikely to deter telemarketers from trying to reach your parent or grandparent. According to Erica Elson, a former telemarketer, ignoring a call simply encourages the company trying to reach you to make another attempt at a later date. Her advice states that it’s best to deal with the problem head-on, instead of assuming it will go away.
If you or an elderly loved one are having problems with telemarketers, here are some proactive tips to stop the harassment.
1. Put your parent or grandparent’s number in the National Do Not Call Registry. This is by far the simplest solution for dealing with telemarketers. It’s important to note here, however, that if your parent or grandparent has done business with a telemarketer in the past (for example, if they’ve previously bought promotional material such as magazine subscriptions) then that telemarketer is not required to comply with the NDNCR; same goes for nonprofits. You’ll have to call the company or organization and ask that your loved one be taken off their list.
2. Help your parent or grandparent Opt-Out from receiving Firm Offers. Ever wonder why annoying credit card offers keep appearing in the mail and why these companies solicit you over the phone? It’s because consumer credit agencies, like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, keep track of your and your loved one’s credit score and sell that information to banks and credit card companies. Luckily, you can help a parent or grandparent opt-out of having any personal information shared by going to optoutprescreen.com so they will stop receiving these annoying mailings and calls.
3. Check in with your loved one, and see if they’re comfortable answering the phone in the event a telemarketer calls. Make sure they know that they should tell the caller that they’re not interested in the service and that they would like their number to be removed from the company’s internal call registry. You may want to put a note by the phone reminding them what to do in case of an unwanted call; be sure to stress the importance of not giving away personal information over the phone!
4. Ask your parent or grandparent to record a company’s information, such as a phone number and who they talked to at the company. That way, if the company calls again, you can contact them directly and reiterate that your parent or grandparent wishes to be removed from their call list.
5. Protect your loved ones from telemarketing if you aren’t confident they’ll turn away unwanted calls and believe they’re susceptible to over-the-phone purchases. In instances like this, encouraging them to screen calls with caller ID is your safest bet; you can call back unwanted numbers at a later time to remove them from internal call lists. If you want to provide additional protection from predatory marketing, your parent or grandparent may benefit from True Link’s customizable spending controls that can prevent over-the-phone purchases.
It’s easy to get frustrated by a persistent telemarketer who does not want to remove you from their internal call registry, but remember they are obligated to comply to your request. Handling these calls the right way can make this process easier. In addition, keep your loved one informed and educated about other ways they can protect themselves from scams and other forms of fraud.