Staples | How to Turn Away Telemarketers

How to Turn Away Telemarketers

The TeleZapper shuts down annoying calls at their source

Their arrival is as regular as the seasons, and their scripts as predictable as television reruns. Worst of all, telemarketing calls always seem to come when you'd least like to be disturbed.

Fortunately, there's an effective way to fight back — and it's as simple as plugging in a phone cord.

The source of calls

Most telemarketing companies (there are several hundred in the U.S.) use a computer known as an auto dialer. Auto dialers can dial five numbers at once — and as many as 500,000 in one day. When you answer one of these calls, the auto dialer connects you to a live telemarketer. This accounts for the awkward and annoying two–second pause you hear on the other end of the line.

How to "zap" them

The TeleZapper turns auto–dialing technology against telemarketers. When you answer the phone (or your answering machine picks up) the TeleZapper emits a quiet, brief tone that tricks the auto dialer into believing your number is no longer in service. In addition to not being transferred to a salesperson, your phone number will be deleted from the computer's database.

If you're using a TeleZapper, and you pick up the phone and there's nobody there, chances are you've just zapped a telemarketer. Within a few weeks, you'll get fewer and fewer such calls.


Will it interfere with calls you want? No. The TeleZapper only fights computer–generated calls, which is what most, but not all, telemarketers use. Most charitable organizations use volunteers to call you personally. Anyone who needs to reach you can by dialing your number manually.

Triggering the TeleZapper

For the TeleZapper to work, either you or your answering machine needs to pick up the incoming telemarketing call. If you use voice mail, it may or may not work, depending on the voice mail program. Ask your voice mail provider if it handles incoming calls "off the hook". Voice mail must be "off the hook" for it to work with the TeleZapper.

Under real conditions, the number of telemarketing calls per test site was reduced from two telemarketing calls a day to approximately two calls per month, over a period of four weeks.1

Using it with an answering machine

The TeleZapper does not interfere with answering machines. For the TeleZapper to work, however, you need to record an outgoing message that has a two–second pause in the beginning. This will allow the TeleZapper to emit its special tone. The convenience of this feature is that you'll be able to remove yourself from lists without answering the phone.

Are there monthly costs?

No. There is no service fee (monthly or otherwise) and no charge other than the TeleZapper itself.

You can add a TeleZapper device to an existing phone for approximately $40. Or, you can purchase either a TeleZapper cordless phone for approximately $50 or a TeleZapper cordless phone with a built–in answering machine for approximately $70.

How they connect

The TeleZapper phones connect in the same way as regular phones do.

The TeleZapper add–on for existing phones plugs directly into your phone jack. Your phone line, or answering machine, then plugs into the TeleZapper. The TeleZapper add–on is only about the size fo a glasses case.

One 'Zapper works for an entire phone line

You only need one TeleZapper per phone line, not for each extension. For instance, one TeleZapper in the kitchen will work for all incoming calls, even if you answer the phone in the den. The only time you need a second TeleZapper is when you have a second, separate line.

Why it doesn't work to not answer or hang up

Ending up on telemarketing calling lists is virtually inevitable. You can end up on a list by having a listed number, by including your phone number on your checks, and even by paying your monthly bills.

If you ignore the phone or hang up, your number will remain in a telemarketer's database and you'll simply be called back.

Junk faxes

If you receive unsolicited faxes, just connect the TeleZapper to your fax line. It will thwart fax marketers who use auto dialers.

What's to keep telemarketers from sidestepping the TeleZapper?

Telemarketers won't disenable the "disconnected" feature on their auto dialers because there are millions of disconnected numbers. Not deleting defunct numbers from their databases would put a huge crimp in their efficiency. Plus, telemarketers rely on passivity to make sales. There are plenty of people who answer their phones, so they don't need to spend their time pursuing tough customers.

National "Do Not Call" lists

Beginning in July, you will be able to add your name and phone number to a National "Do Not Call" Registry that telemarketers will be required by law to check. Be sure to register with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Any private company that tries to charge you to join the do not call registry is not legitimate. For more information, visit the FTC site.

Some telemarketers will surely attempt to sidestep the registry. With both the TeleZapper and the National "Do Not Call" Registry, however, your privacy — not to mention your peace and quiet — will be restored.

1Review by Privacy Corps.

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