a telemarketer left the desk and left his headphones on the keyboard


How to make telemarketers stop calling you.


Fraudulent telemarketers steal over a billion dollars from consumers every year.

They usually work out of cheap, rented offices with nothing more than a telephone and a desire to take your money. Some even operate from prison!

They try to sell you investments, credit cards, vacation packages, vitamin supplements or ask for donations to phony charities. They may even try to sell you programs to protect you from telemarketers.

The Do Not Call List

If you don’t want calls from telemarketers, you can register your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call List online or by calling toll free (888) 382-1222. You can register cell phones too. The do not call list is operated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Registration is effective within 30 days and is good permanently. Telemarketers should not call you after you have been registered for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint with the FTC.

People who you do business with and most charities can still call you.

Warning Signs of Fraud

The following are common warning signs of telemarketing fraud:

  • The caller says you’ve won a prize, then asks you to pay the shipping costs.
  • The caller asks you for personal information, such as your bank account number, credit card, or your social security number.
  • The caller offers to send someone to your home to deliver your prize or pick up your money.
  • The caller pressures you to buy something “now.”
  • The offer simply sounds too good to be true.

How Can I Protect Myself?

When you answer the telephone:

  • Assume that callers are not legitimate if they ask for money, want to give you money, or say you’ve won a prize.
  • Don’t give your bank account, credit card, or social security number to strangers on the telephone.
  • Don’t buy over the phone from people you don’t personally know, or from callers who want you to buy now.
  • Ask callers for an address and a local phone number so you can call them back. If they refuse, hang up the phone.
  • Know that crooked telemarketers sound trustworthy, friendly, and professional.

I Got Ripped Off! Now What?

Take these steps:

  1. Stop payment on your check.
  2. Call and write to your credit card company to dispute the charge.
  3. If someone is coming to pick up your money, call the police.
  4. File a complaint with these offices:

California Attorney General
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94255-2550

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
Washington, DC 20580-0001

County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. Last change: June 18, 2013

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