Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Culleton: Avoiding unwanted phone calls and scammers

Annoyed by unwanted phone calls? Welcome to the bulk of us. On some of them we just hang up. Those that state “don't hang up” make it very simple to do so. Others can be warned off if you say they are violating the federal Do Not Call Registry, and that you have their number and will report them. Then they hang up on you!

Most sales calls are subject to the ban by the registry. This will not stop all unwanted calls. While the system will prevent most telemarketers from calling you, there are several exceptions. The following groups/companies may still call you: Tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations (charities) are exempt and may call to raise money. This registry does not cover calls on religious or political matters (for example political polls) since they are not considered telemarketers. Companies may call you for 90 days after you inquire about services or complete an application for services. If you have an “established business relationship,” the company may call you for up to 18 months after the last time you purchased something from them (or had another “business transaction”).


The federal Do Not Call Registry accepts registrations from both cellphones and landlines. To register by telephone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236). You must call from the phone number that you want to register. To register online (, you will have to respond to a confirmation email.

Some callers are nevertheless persistent. I tell the guy who says, “I clean your ducts,” that we don’t have any ducts. I tell the gent who says, “This is Medicare calling,” that I only contact Medicare by mail. I tell the guy who offers to fix the Microsoft Windows on my computer that I use a version of the Linux operating system.


Many companies whom we do deal with over the phone hire people who speak heavily accented English. Often the accent is from Tagalog, the principal language of the Philippines. Now it happens I was exposed to this accent in my early years but few others share that experience. If the accent problem is a problem for you then ask to speak to an American instead. When my granddaughter worked in customer service for a credit card company customers often thanked her for speaking American English. However, customer reps who spoke both English and Spanish were paid more.

Another annoyance is the TV ad that says you should not ask your neighbor to recommend a good home service provider such as carpentry or lawn mowing, provider but rather contact them for recommended vendors. Our experience has been that those particular recommended vendors charge higher prices. We do better by looking in the want-ads in this paper or online. Relatives and neighbors are other reliable sources. When we do have repairs done to our house we ask the repair people which homeowners’ insurance companies are most likely to pay for damage to your home. We had the same insurance company for 40 years, but they refused to pay on our first a serious claim. The repair people told us which home insurance companies are likely to pay and which give you a hard time.

Finally, there are the pleas for donations during this holiday season. Most are legitimate but some are scams. We only give to the traditional services such as USO, Salvation Army, Shiner hospitals and various church related groups. Some other “nonprofits” pay their executives millions. Nonprofit radio stations like WBJC are also worthy of wide support. However a few days ago WBJC offered some Hanukkah songs as performed by a group with a distinctly Christian name. We had a giggle out of that.

Happy holidays to all, whatever your faith or lack thereof.