How do I stop robocalls and telemarketers?

Published: October 04, 2014 08:00 AM
Illustration: Kelsey Dake

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Q. We were delighted to use the phone number Consumer Reports published to eliminate robocalls; we’re pretty sure it worked, too. But how do I get real people to stop calling at dinnertime? Could it be that putting your name on a do-not-call list indicates that there’s a live person at the end of the number?—Brent Harward, Austin, TX

A. Signing up for the Do Not Call registry should protect you from unwanted telemarketing calls: That includes live calls from real people and “robocalls,” which use recorded messages or automatic dialers for live people to reach you. Companies are required to check the National Do Not Call registry; if your name is listed, they’re prohibited from contacting you.

But certain companies and scammers ignore the list, and technological changes are making it easier for callers to harass you and to cover their tracks with phony caller IDs. Consumer Reports is pushing federal regulators to step up efforts to enforce the rules and to punish callers who disregard them. In the meantime, the best way to help reduce those intrusions is still to add your information to the National Do Not Call list at or 888-382-1222. The free service works for residential and wireless numbers; once you sign up, your number remains on the list as long as your phone is in use—unless you decide to opt out.

For more information, read our report on FCC rules that aim to stop annoying telemarketing tactics.

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Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the November 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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