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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > April 2011 > How to handle unwanted calls

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How to handle unwanted calls


Unwanted phone calls can be frustrating. Calls may come at inconvenient times, and you may have trouble determining who is calling you.

The following will help you understand and deal with unexpected calls.

Don’t trust your caller ID

Using a practice called “spoofing,” scammers can disguise their true identity and the origin of their phone calls. They can make it appear that a call is coming from your local bank, when it actually is coming from Jamaica or some other country.

They often achieve spoofing by using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), technology that allows individuals to make telephone calls using the Internet.

While there is little you can do to stop spoofing itself, you can become more aware and more skeptical of the people who call. Just because a caller says he represents your bank does not mean that he does. He could be a scam artist located in the United Kingdom.

To be safe, never give any personal information to someone who calls unexpectedly. When in doubt, hang up and call a number you know to be real.

Don’t give out your phone number

If fewer organizations have your phone number, you likely will receive fewer calls. Pay attention when someone asks for your phone number, and do not automatically provide it.

For example, if you are at the mall and are considering entering a contest for a free car or boat, think twice before deciding to enter and listing your phone number on the contest entry form. By completing the form, you may be giving the company permission to call you or to sell your information to other companies. Always read the fine print.

Opt out of sharing your personal information

Many businesses automatically share your personal information with other businesses, who may call you. You can take active steps to “opt out” of having your information shared.

Make a list of the companies with which you do business, such as your bank and your cell phone company, and check their privacy policies by searching on their websites or by calling them.

If you do not want your information shared, ask how to change your privacy settings and make those changes.

Get on the Do Not Call Registry

Reduce unwanted telemarketing calls by registering your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. Registration is permanent (meaning you should not have to register the same phone number twice), and you should see a reduction in telemarketing calls about a month after you register.

Understand that some companies still may call even if you are on the Do Not Call Registry. For example, you may receive calls if you have an existing business relationship with a company, such as making a monthly payment to the company.

Plus, political organizations, telephone surveyors and charitable organizations still may call, even if you are on the Do Not Call Registry. Nevertheless, you can tell a company or organization to put you on its internal do-not-call list to further reduce unwanted calls.

File a complaint

If you receive calls that may be in violation of telemarketing regulations, file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Federal Communications Commission and/or the Federal Trade Commission.


Learn more about and report spoofing — Federal Communications Commission

Do Not Call Registry — National Do Not Call Registry

Report Do Not Call violations — Federal Trade Commission

Report a scam — Ohio Attorney General's Office

File a consumer complaint — Ohio Attorney General's Office

Request a free Consumer Awareness Workshop — Ohio Attorney General's Office

Sign up to receive the Consumer Advocate e-newsletter — Ohio Attorney General's Office