Cutting to the Core

There's a way to fight back against tele-marketers, unwanted mail

Don't you just love all those annoying tele-marketers and all those pre-approved credit card offers people get in the mail.


First of all, if you want those credit card offers to stop, according to Phil Schenck, deputy chief of the Sunnyside Police Department, a person can call 1-800-5optout and ask to be removed from the list. It's a little like the no-call list you can sign up for with tele-marketers.

If you haven't been put on the list, when a tele-marketer calls you, they want to try and make the sale as quickly as possible so they can get on with the next call. Here's a little tip if they call you. Waste their time. Do not give any of your information to them but just ask them questions.

I get calls from student loan consolidation companies all the time. They go through their spiel and then say, "If you could just tell me your birthdate and SSN we can get started."

First of all, never give those out to anyone on the phone if they call you. If you do, you deserve to get ripped off. I tell them I'm not comfortable giving out that information to someone I don't know. They reply, "We need this information to look up your loans so we can lower your interest rate."

I tell them again I'm not comfortable giving this information out and they go away.

Another little trick when they call is to ask them to hang on for a minute, wait two minutes and I'll guarantee you they'll be gone. Like I said, time is money.

Have you every received a phone call and no one is on the other line? It happens to me all of the time and it bugs the heck out of me. What these calls are is computers calling random numbers and tracking when someone picks up the phone. This information is then compiled and lets the tele-marketer know when the best time to call your house is.

According to my mom, when this happens, push the # button on your phone six or seven times and it's supposed to confuse the computer and your number gets kicked off the computer. I've tried it but I'm not sure if it has worked or not, but I still do it.

Another fun thing I like to do is return the junk mail I receive with my bills. Let's say Macy's sends me a bill with a bunch of offers in it. I'll pay my bill and send back the offers they sent me. Let them throw their own junk mail away.

With the pre-approved credit card offers, I always respond to them. You see, if you don't respond, it doesn't cost them anything. Sure, they have to pay for the pre-postage envelope they sent you but they don't have to pay the 39¢ for postage unless it's actually mailed back to them.

I got a credit card offer the other day. It said they would give me a credit line of $350. Then, get this, the yearly fee was $150 and there was a $20 charge to get things going. Right away I would be into them for $170 if I agreed to this Russian Mafia offer.

I wrote on the application, "Are you out of your mind," and then sent it back to them. I try to stuff as much junk into the envelopes as I can to try to make it cost more than the 39¢.

Is it hurting these companies? No. But someone has to open up the envelopes and see my junk mail. Now if everyone did this, it might start to hurt them. I always make sure my name is visible so they can see who is doing this to them. It's my small way of fighting back. Sure, I only cost them 39¢ but I hope I made one of them mad.

If we were all to do this instead of throwing away our junk mail, maybe these companies would start getting the idea. Doubtful but it would be fun to try. If you don't want to send back the application, send a pizza coupon or an ad for some department store.

I think it's time to send the junk back to the junk dealers.


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