DEAR SUN SPOTS: Thanks for a great column! I’m getting really pesky phone calls from “credit card services.” They have been calling almost every day. I told them a thousand times that we don’t need their services (we have no credit card debt). Yet they call.
I have a Do Not Call registry phone number (1-888-382-1222). I have called them about four times to give our phone number and left a message at the end of the automated call about our problem.
It has done no good. They are still calling. Do you know what our next move is? Help! — Pauline, Lewiston
ANSWER: The Do Not Call system will not end calls with any business or bank with which you already have an account. You need to find out which bank is actually making those calls — or paying for the service that does so — and then write to them and ask them to stop calling you.
(The fact that you do not have a balance is irrelevant. Often those calls are encouraging “balance transfers” or other promotions to get credit-worthy customers to use their credit cards.)
It will probably take at least a month for the calls to stop after that, but if the bank doesn’t ultimately comply you can get them into trouble with the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates telemarketing.
Sun Spots gets those calls, too. They are annoying, but she hasn’t gotten angry enough to go to the trouble to stop them. Sometimes there is an easier way. Read on for a helpful suggestion.
DEAR SUN SPOTS: Regarding the Jan. 30 column about concerns from a senior citizen about phone harassment, we also have had phone calls offering protection from increases in interest rates. At first I would hang up when called — several times. Then I said “no” repeatedly and asked not to be called again.
Just this week another call came, and I did not say anything in response to the recording. After 30 or so seconds, I was offered several choices on how to respond to the call. The third or last option could be chosen to make that the final call I will ever receive. Guess which one I chose! Just wait and listen. Good luck! — Margi Snyder, firstname.lastname@example.org
DEAR SUN SPOTS: Here is some additional information for the person who wrote in about bothersome phone calls. With regard to bill collection phone calls, these businesses are regulated by the federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. The law stipulates, among other things, that a bill collector may not call any more than twice in any given seven-day period. They also may not call on Sundays.
There is much more to the law. It might be beneficial to ascertain the bones of it for future reference.
With regard to solicitation calls, beyond the Do Not Call list, there is another surefire way to stop solicitation calls and mail (credit card and mortgage offers). When a person receives these kinds of offers it means someone in that company has looked at that person’s credit report. This will stop if notification is sent to the three main credit reporting agencies, advising them not to release that information for promotional purposes.
This is good for five years and at least one of them offers the opportunity to make it permanent. It might be a service to post the contact information for these agencies. — Martha Burnell, email@example.com
ANSWER: While researching this response, Sun Spots found this number, 888-567-8688, the credit bureaus main opt-out line. Instead of calling all three credit bureaus, you can just call this one number. This is a legitimate number — it’s on the Federal Trade Commission website — but it is automated and requires you to provide your Social Security number, which isn’t surprising since credit offers are based on that number.
In case readers want them, here are the phone numbers for the credit bureaus: Experian, 888-397-3742; TransUnion, 800-916-8800; and Equifax, 800-685-1111.
Keep in mind that this only eliminates credit-related calls. It won’t stop calls from people selling vinyl siding and other products and services. For that you need Do Not Call.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.