How to Cope With Telemarketers

Lisa Baker's phone rings at work all the time. "Up to 15 to 20 phone calls a day," she says. So at home, taking calls is the last thing Lisa wants to do.

"You take care of your child, you cook dinner, and when you have people calling you, saying 'Can I have a moment of your time?,' that's my phone. That's the way I feel about it."

Lisa pays her phone company to block callers who are labled as "unidentified" on caller ID. And like millions of other frustrated Americans, she also signed up for the national Do Not Call list. "I don't think that's fair to me as a paying customer of my phone line," Lisa explains.

And the government agrees, although there are a few exceptions. The Do Not Call law does not apply to charitable and political organizations. Companies with whom you've already established a business relationship are also exempt, along with companies that have your permission to call.

Assistant Attorney General Jeff Long says that's where you need to watch out. "Some of the scams I've seen on that, they get you to apply for a prize at a store. Then, on the back of the form, you're actually agreeing that they can call you," he says.

"Your phone number gets out there, I don't know how it does," Lisa says. So she makes a conscious effort to keep her phone number private. And if she still gets calls, she has some more practical advice.

"I've found there's a way to handle telemarketers," she explains. "That's just to say 'I'm going to stop you right here. I'm sorry, I'm not interested. Please take me off your list.' Do not give them a chance to get a word in edgewise."

There's proof that the Do Not Call law is working. An independent survey shows 92% of those who have signed up for the program are getting fewer calls.

If you haven't signed up, all you have to do is call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-888-382-1222. You can also log on

Reporter: Mark Bullock