New FCC rules might stop robocalls

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: In response to the woman who wrote in about the phone call offers for credit cards (Feb. 11), I keep getting calls to get a free meter for diabetics.

I have asked them not to call, but they keep calling. When someone else in the house answers, they hang up. Is there a way to stop them? I have asked them not to call. I get them from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

Thanks for all your good work. You have been very helpful in the past, and I look forward everyday to your column. — No Name via email

ANSWER: In your case, Sun Spots suggests a letter to the company requesting politely but firmly that they no longer call you. Tell them that if they persist you will report them to the Federal Communications Commission.

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Sun Spots cannot guarantee that it will work, but it’s worth a try.

There have been several funny stories about techniques used to end telemarketing calls, but they take time and effort. Hanging up is much easier. Callers will go away eventually.

Meanwhile, Sun Spots does have some good news for all her readers who are annoyed by unwanted calls from computers. According to a story she heard on National Public Radio last week, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to crack down on some robocalls.

Sun Spots looked up the story at npr.org and found the following:

* Telemarketers will now be required to obtain written consent from people before placing a robocall. Written includes electronic forms.

* The new rules eliminate a loophole that allowed telemarketers to place robocalls if they had an “established business relationship” with the consumer.

* Telemarketers will have to provide an automated way for people to revoke their consent to the robocall by pressing a few keys on their phone during the call.

The radio story said the new rules do not apply to actual people calling you, only robocalls.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I have very few unwanted phone calls. We have caller ID, so by the second ring we can see who is calling. If I don’t recognize the caller number or the message says private number or some other unrecognized caller, I answer the call with the standard hello. The caller has two to three seconds to respond to my greeting and if they don’t, I hang up.

If someone is genuinely trying to reach me they will call back. Most telemarketers and other pests do not as the call is made by a computer and they have another waiting. It works very well in our household.

When I have unsolicited emails asking for banking information or some other too good-to-be-true offer, I have a standard reply that I have saved in my documents to copy and paste, thanking the person for the generous offer and advising them that I have a relative who is an FBI special agent working in the fraud division. I list his name, email and phone number and state that I have forwarded their email to him and also to the attorney general for the state of Maine, with his name, address, phone number and email address included in the message.

I then tell the sender that when I hear from both parties that the message is legitimate, they can expect to hear from me. If it isn’t legit, they can expect to hear from one or both of these people. The best part of this is, I never receive a follow-up message. — Cal Brown, Litchfield

ANSWER: Wow, that is some elaborate program. Most people would not have your fortitude. Hopefully the new rules will mean they won’t have to.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: We are retiring in May from Auburn and need someone who can haul away household trash such as box springs, mattresses and more. Thanks. — Sandra Fongemie, 754-8420

ANSWER: Sun Spots has the name of one handyman in her Rolodex: Dean Hinkley, Wales, 375-6163. Others may write in as well.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I belong to the United Methodist Youth Group of Auburn. We are going to do a bottle drive to help raise money for our mission trip to Virginia in July. If you have any bottles or tabs, we would greatly appreciate your help. Please email me. — Paige Morin, smorin2411@yahoo.com

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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