Robocalls & telemarketers: Your consumer rights

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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Telemarketer and robocalls. We’ve all gotten them. But what if your number is on the ‘Do Not Call’ list?

Robocalls are the #1 source of complaints to the Federal Communication Commission with more than 215,000 complaints just last year.

“I am on the Do Not Call list as far as I know thought I don’t know how I verify that so maybe I was and I am not anymore,” said Sarah Hougen of Northampton.

Actually, once your number is on the federal ‘Do Not Call’ list, it never expires. The problem is criminals don’t pay attention to that list.

A legitimate advertising agency should not call you if you are on the ‘Do Not Call’ list, so if you are on that list and you keep getting these calls, your call is likely from a fraudulent source. People use a tactic called spoofing that can display a fake caller I.D.

“The caller I.D. systems, those can be modified and changed to display whoever you want them to display and fool innocent people into thinking they are getting a call from Uncle Sam when they are getting it from someone else,” said Tony Russell-Smith, a Service Technician at YES Computers.

Janice Garrett is the Director of Consumer Protection for the Northwester District Attorney’s Office.

“If you get a call and you are being told that you have won a-million dollars and you really want to believe that it is true, you can call one of the local consumer offices and we can work through it with you but the best thing to do is just hang up,” said Garrett.

If a legitimate agency repeatedly calls your restricted number, it may qualify as harassment, and you can sue for damages.

“It’s privacy issue and I really do think if you are on a list and you’ve made a special effort to have your privacy protected, there should be some legal ramifications,” said Carys Lamberg of Amherst.

In May, the FCC came out with a new plan to regulate robocalls by allowing phone companies to use technology to block them before your phone starts ringing.

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