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Ask Sid

Stopping Telemarketing Calls

Q. Is there a new way to stop telemarketing calls?

A. Yes. Since Dec. 1, the Federal Trade Commission has required all prerecorded telemarketing calls to include a “quick and easy” opt-out system to stop future calls by that company. Typically, for calls you answer, that means saying a certain word or pressing a number that should be provided in the recording, such as "Press 1 to remove your number" or "Say 'remove' to stop future calls." Once you have opted  out, that call must immediately be disconnected and the calling seller or fundraiser cannot make future calls to you.

Messages left on your voice mail must have a toll-free number that connects to an automated opt-out system. Any prerecorded sales or fundraising calls that do not meet these criteria are subject to fines.

If you receive such prerecorded calls that don't offer an opt-out, and can identify the caller's number on Caller ID, file complaints at or call 1-877-382-4357 toll-free.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

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