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How to Stop Telemarketing Calls

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If your phone rings incessantly during the dinner hour with offers of "free" cruises or low-interest credit cards, consider adding your number to the National Do Not Call Registry: It's free, and it will dramatically cut the number of marketing calls you receive.

The registry was created in 2003 to block personal numbers from most telemarketing calls.

Here's how it works:

You can register your cellphones and land lines.  To add a number to the registry, call (888) 382-1222 from the phone that you wish to register, or visit www.donotcall.gov.

Only personal phone numbers can be registered -- not business lines.

If you are registering online, be sure to provide a real email address.  You'll have to confirm the registration within 72 hours through a link sent to that email address.

Telemarketers are required to remove registered numbers from their calling databases.  They do have up to 31 days to remove numbers, however, so you might still get calls for a while.

Still, the registry does not affect calls from charities, political organizations, surveys and companies that you have shared your contact information with.  They can continue to call you.

Your registration will not expire.  However, if you change calling plans with your phone company, or the billing name on the account changes, that could take you off the list.  To verify that your number is still on the registry, check www.donotcall.gov.

If an unauthorized telemarketer calls you 31 days after you've registered, you can file a complaint at www.donotcall.gov or call (888) 382-1222.  You can also file a complaint if you get a phone call that uses a recorded message instead of a live person. 

The Federal Trade Commission won't intervene in individual cases, but they and other law enforcement agencies use the complaint database to investigate companies.

Finally, be wary of companies that pretend to represent the Do Not Call Registry and offer to add your name to the list for a fee.  The registry is free for consumers -- and the FTC says third parties aren't allowed to register consumers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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