Posted: Chase Sagum | May 17, 2013

News

A Quick Guide to Limiting Unwanted Calls and Emails

Not all calls and emails are important and welcome. Some are annoying and downright illegal. The most obvious ones are unwanted sales calls and unsolicited commercial messages from scammers, spammers and dubious individuals or organizations. As a discerning consumer, you have to take a proactive approach or risk having your information fall into the wrong hands. Stopping them, or at least reducing the number of unwanted calls and emails you receive, is not as hard as you think.

Register Your Phone Number to the "National Do Not Call Registry"

You can easily sign up online via donotcall.gov. Click on the link in the confirmation email within 72 hours to activate your registration. Your number will appear on the list the day after you register.

The registry has over 209 million phone numbers listed on it. A big chunk of them are traditional landline numbers but consumers have also started to register their cellphone numbers on the Do Not Call list.

Some unwanted calls are not included from the ban. You may still get calls from charities, political organizations, an airline announcing a flight delay and legitimate informational robocalls.

If this does not solve your problem or you still get an illegal call, the best thing to do is to hang up. Don't speak to the caller and try to get your number off their call list. This will just lead to more robocalls, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns.

Limit Unwanted Calls By Using a Voice Mail or Answering Service

This is one of the best ways to discourage unwanted calls. The service not only records messages when you are not unavailable, it also screens your calls.

There's another helpful device similar to a voice mail or answering service. It's called an "inbound call blocker." Once attached to your phone, the device effectively blocks unwanted calls by asking the caller to enter a special numeric code through their phone pad. Make sure to disclose the code only to people you want to talk to or people you expect to call sometime in the future.

Opt Out of Receiving Prescreened Offers From Credit and Insurance Companies

Is your mailbox always crammed with unsolicited offers?

You can either opt out for five years or opt out permanently by visiting this website. In either case, you are required to disclose sensitive information such as your Social Security number and telephone number. These will be kept confidential and will be used only to process your request.

You can also opt out permanently by sending a written request to each of the major consumer reporting companies. Be sure to include the following information in your request: name, Social Security number, date of birth and telephone number.

Use an Email Filter to Block Spam

Protecting your virtual inbox is as important as keeping your physical mailbox from getting unwanted mails. Check if your email service provider has robust email filters installed in their system. Companies like Google and Microsoft, for instance, invest in state-of-the-art tools for filtering out spam.

You can also limit your exposure to unwanted emails by using two email addresses: one for personal messages and another for commercial transactions and subscriptions. Some consumers go the extra mile by using a disposable email service that forwards messages to your permanent email address. Use this service if you are active in online forums, blogs and other websites. If your disposable address starts to receive spam, you can deactivate it without affecting your permanent email account.

Educate Yourself On Telemarketing Scams

Some telemarketers are so cunning that they entice consumers into giving up personal information. Don't let yourself fall into their traps by knowing how they operate. If someone offers you free or exaggerated gifts and prizes, say "no, thank you" and hang up.

Unwanted calls and mails are not only annoying. They can cause serious harm by tricking you into sending personal or financial data. Anyone can be a victim, regardless of age, education, gender, race or income. If you think you have been scammed or defraud, file a complaint with the FTC and find ways to protect your sensitive information.

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Written by Chase Sagum

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