The easiest way to minimize telemarketing and robocalls to your phone is by not providing your phone number in response to requests for it. It’s really that simple! But, here are additional steps you can take to, immediately, minimize unsolicited calls to your phones.
• Use “do not call” and call-block registries. Perhaps the best known call block registry is the National Do Not Call registry (National Do Not Call Registry) maintained by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. In addition, there is at least one free, private call block service you may want to try — Nomorobo (www.nomorobo.com). It works best with land lines and VOIP lines, though the service is working on expanding its offering to cell phone lines as well. Finally, depending on your cellular service provider or the type of cell phone you have, you may be able to maintain a private list of blocked phone numbers. On the iPhone, for example, for any call you receive, while in the “Recents” window in the phone app, you can press the “i” button to the right of the number, scroll down to the bottom, and press the “Block this Caller” button. Doing so will add the number to your own list, maintained on your iPhone, of calls which will be blocked on a going forward basis
• Use a “spam phone number” — a phone number you have but which you don’t use — in response to a request for your phone number. For example, if you subscribe to cable or DSL, you may have a package which includes a VOIP phone number which you don’t really use or doesn’t ring out. If you have an alarm system at your house, that alarm may utilize a dedicated phone line which you don’t really use or doesn’t ring out. Start giving one of those numbers out in response to phone number requests; you can usually check messages via a voice mail portal provided by your phone, cable or DSL provider. This is my preferred strategy; it is no different than the “spam email account” I maintain, which I give out in response to requests for my email address. I never check it unless I am searching for some specific communication. If you don’t have an alternative number, you can obtain a free phone number from Google Voice which would come with call-screening functionality (www.google.com/voice), although to use your Google Number, you will need to connect it to an existing line (your land line or cell phone). However, it will still be better to give out a Google Number, which you can ultimately disconnect at no cost if you choose to, than give out either your home or cell phone number.
• Decline to provide any phone number in response to a request for your number. If you are filling out an Internet form for information, and the phone number box must be filled in, you will have to abandon the form and you may not be able to receive the information you seek from the website. However, if you are speaking to someone on the phone, you can simply deny their request and move on to asking the questions you want answered.
• Optincall, Inc. offers a free consumer product research service — in fact they pay you to use it — that lets you speak with merchants without providing them with your name or phone number (www.optincall.com). Instead of researching products or services by filling out time-consuming lead generation forms and waiting for merchants to call you, you can fill out a short form, set an appointment day and time to receive the call, and not reveal your name or phone number to the merchant with whom you speak. Since the call is connected by Optincall and they don’t share your contact info with the merchant, the merchant has no way to call you back unless you give them your contact info.
These tools and strategies won’t eliminate telemarketing and robocalls, but they will help reduce them starting this very minute.