Why Some Solicitors Still Call

You put your name on the "Do Not Call" registry, have instructed your credit card companies to keep your contact information to themselves, and even got caller ID. Still, you're getting pitched. So how did the telemarketers get your number?

You might want to check with your boss.

The office no longer offers safe haven from telemarketers and the like. Just ask the folks in your human resources department. They field calls daily from vendors who want your number. Most never get past voice mail. But a few who offer what your HR folks deem a valuable service are finding an in.

By forming an employee-benefits program, companies can come into your office and pitch their services during your coffee break. Since your employer is most likely ineligible for inclusion in the national "Do Not Call" law, as well as the call-ban laws in most states, vendors can follow up -- you guessed it -- via phone and avoid FTC fines for telemarketing.

Traditionally, such services as cheap banking, discounted gym memberships, and cut-rate insurance were extras afforded only to those at large companies. But now, stymied service providers -- particularly those in the financial field -- are targeting small and medium-sized businesses where more than half of the employed population toils.

Let's say you didn't provide your real name or number to any office visitors. What's up with the endless pitches? As you've probably heard, neither political organizations, charities, telephone surveyors, companies with which you have (or have recently had) a business relationship, nor that annoying guy from the bar are required to check the National Do Not Call Registry before picking up the phone.

Companies -- and offshoots of companies -- that you've done business with are allowed to send unsolicited mail. (So are local merchants, professional and alumni associations, political candidates and officeholders, nonprofits, and your mother.) How long until they get the brush-off? They have 18 months from the time of your last purchase, delivery, or payment to call you. Even if you just make an inquiry or submit an application, the company has permission to call you for three months.

The only way to get them to stop is to ask to be put on the company's internal do-not-call list. Charities, too, must comply with consumer requests to be taken off their contact lists. Politicians, however, don't have to.

For guidance on getting your name off every solicitation list you can, see "Silence the Sales Pitches."

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