Way to Save #124: Turn The Tables On Telemarketers

One of the most popular TV news stories I’ve ever done involves changing from victim to predator in the cold-calling jungle. Here’s how it works. Federal law requires that almost anyone who solicits you by phone give you their name and either address or phone number (which they virtually never do.) The law also requires that they call between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm. And if you ask to be put on their “do-not-call” list, nobody from that company is allowed to call you for ten years. Finally, they’re required to furnish you with their written “do-not-call” policy upon request.

Now, here’s the cool part. Companies are allowed one mistake per year, then they are subject to a $500 fine per violation. So here’s what you do: keep a pad and pencil by the phone. When you’re cold-called, ask to be put on the “do-not-call” list, and ask for a copy of their written policy. Make a note of the date, time and person you talked to. If that company contacts you again, let them know you’re supposed to be on their “do-not-call” list. That was their one allowable mistake. If they call you again, get their address, because you’re about to make some money. Send a letter to the company threatening to sue them in your local small claims court for $500 per offense because the company is in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

More than likely the company will offer you a check ($250 to $300) to avoid the hassle of a court hearing that they’re going to lose. Believe it or not, informed Americans have already collected hundreds of thousands of dollars with this strategy (and no doubt had fun doing it!) That’s just the gist of what you need to know, however: to learn more, go to www.junkbusters.com. Sites like this can also help you reduce your junk mail.

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