DEAR SUN SPOTS: Isn’t there a law against telemarketers interrupting one’s daily life by calling several times a day only for you to answer the phone and have them hang up as soon as you lift the receiver? Not only do they call early in the morning but throughout the day and evening, including Sunday.

We hurry to answer the phone because we have elderly and sick family members who often need help or have an emergency. Also, some elders need to rest at certain times of the day, only to be disturbed by these useless, aggravating calls plaguing us day after day.

There used to be a special number we could call to scan and stop these unwanted calls. Whatever happened to that? Is it no longer available or effective?

I’m sure other people are experiencing this annoying problem. Do you have any suggestions? I’m at my wit’s end!

— No name, no town

ANSWER: I feel your pain. I was being bothered by calls about the warranty running out on my vehicle as well as “lower interest rates” for a nonexistent credit card several times a day until I contacted the National Do Not Call List at the Federal Trade Commission (1-888-382-1222). This is an automated system and the only personal information you need to give them is your phone number. Be sure you call from the number you want to be on the list. You can also sign up online at donotcall.com. You will then get an email that you respond to.

This process takes 30 days to go into effect. If you get a call any time after 30 days, you can lodge a formal complaint at the Commission by calling that same number back or sending a note on the website. I went through the process myself to make sure it works. You don’t have to give any other information other than your phone number, and your email, if you’re writing them online.

Here are other tips for your self-care and peace of mind when it comes to unwanted calls. Let your answering machine or voice mail do its job. Telemarketing calls are aggravating, but in this day and age, there are so many scammers lurking, too. Never give any information to anyone who calls you who you aren’t familiar with. There are scammers who pretend to be your grandchildren, a long-lost relative, and even members of the police department. If you don’t recognize a number, don’t answer it. If it’s really important, the caller will leave a message.

It really is OK for you to turn off your phone at a certain time of night or when you’re having an afternoon nap. If it makes you feel better, tell your relatives, “I’m shutting off the phone and taking a nap.” Or, “I’m going to turn off the phone at 10 p.m.”

I have a big family with lots of people depending on me, but I know I can’t help them in a crisis, or at any other time, if I’m not taking good care of myself. Have your loved ones get some backup in place in the event they can’t reach you, let them know you love them, then take good care of yourself!

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 emailed to [email protected]


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