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October 04, 2021

Hello, hello? Turning the tables on telemarketers

I’m pretty sure there’s a special corner of hell reserved for telemarketers.

Thanks to computerized dialers, cheap long distance rates and even cheaper third-world call centres, Canadians are getting more and more intrusive calls than ever before.

If eerie silence follows your greeting, it’s likely the caller is using “predictive dialing” technology, in which a computer dials multiple phone numbers over a short period in order to get a hit.

When you answer, you’re supposed to be quickly transferred to an available rep, but if all of them are occupied with other calls, you hear nothing – your first clue. Your last chance will be the annoying buzz of disembodied voices that precedes some garbled version of your name.

If you do end up on the line with a pesky telemarketer, it's of course always possible to cut things short with a firm refusal, a request to be taken off whatever list you’re on and a firm hang-up.

But many weary targets like to go on step farther, leaving the caller dangling until they give up or simply harassing them back. 

You could also try signing on for the National Do Not Call List. But, since it’s reportedly failed to act on more than 300,000 complaints about unwanted calls, you might have a long wait.

Want to simply cut the annoying creatures off at the pass altogether?

The TeleZapper is a little device that you can hook up to your phone line to reduce annoying calls. It works by mimicking the same three-note tone that phone carriers use to inform callers that a line is out of service, which, in turn, tells the autodialer to remove your number from its master list.

Unfortunately, the device gets mixed reviews – but the idea behind it certainly strikes a chord.

Do you see telemarketing as a scourge? How are you fighting back?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...