Dealing with unsolicited calls

Dealing with telemarketing and obscene calls
Unsolicited telephone calls are unwanted, and may be irritating, distressing and traumatic to the receiver. They are usually obscene or sales orientated in nature and on the increase in part due to the advances in and access to dialling technology. Obscene telephone calls are illegal in many countries, whilst the explosion of telemarketing in some countries in the last several years has brought in restrictive legislation to curb such activities.
The making of "dirty" telephone calls, either live or by employing audio tapes with obscene or profane content, may cause great to distress to the receiver and is legally interdicted with civil or criminal penalties in many countries. But evasion of prosecution is achieved with anonymity; and in some countries, if the language is clinical and falsely alleged to be a survey, or a similar false device is employed, it is difficult to bring charges. Obscene telephone calls are characterized by considerable inventiveness. They may be expressed in a language foreign to the receiver, or may even be innocuous while attended by auto-erotic acts. Some degree of compliance by a small percentage of recipients encourages offenders so that it is suggested to put the phone down, and if such phone calls continue report the matter. In the UK alone about 15 million malicious phone calls are made every year.

Junk calls such as those made by the telemarketing industry are becoming a regular irritation for many families and businesses. Emergency lines, cellular phones and personnel pagers are also clogged up. Travellers, in particular, resent calling their home answering machines and paying long-distance rates to hear innumerable sales messages. The recent boom has been in part due to the advances in dialling technology, including the auto-dialler and machines which hand over the a live operator only the calls that are answered. These devices can double the number of prospects to whom an operator can talk in a day. They can also use pre-programmed target lists of telephone numbers collected surreptitiously by companies that capture callers numbers, for example callers of horoscope lines, toll-free mail-order numbers and other telephone services.

Expenditures on telemarketing have increased from US$1,000 million in 1981 to over US$60,000 million in 1991. The industry's trade group, founded with 23 members in 1983, has more than 1,000 in 1991. The number of telemarketing agents in the USA has risen fourfold between 1984 to 1991, to roughly 300,000; they make some 18 million calls a day. In addition, some 75,000 stockbrokers make 1,500 million telemarketing calls a year. Some 20 states of the USA already have laws restricting auto-diallers.

People who do not want unsolicited telemarketing calls may be able to notify their phone company and be put on a database. The cost of management may be borne by direct marketers and there may be a penalty for infringement.

Type Classification:
F: Exceptional strategies