You might be partially to blame.  

By Meghan Overdeep
March 11, 2019
Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images

If you have a phone, you're no doubt familiar with telemarketers. These days, it seems like every other call is from some far-away stranger looking to sell you something. And if it seems like each day brings a new batch of companies hungry for your business, you're not imagining it.

Telemarketing, though uniquely annoying, isn't illegal. And as long as telemarketers follow the laws outlined in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Consumer Protection Act (including not calling your home before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m) they're completely within their rights dial you up.

So how is it that telemarketing companies keep managing to get their hands on your digits? And how is it that even people on the "Do Not Call List" are still receiving telemarketing calls? According to the Better Business Bureau, most telemarketers purchase phone numbers from third party data providers. And more often than not, you handed it to them. Here's how:

  • You called an 800, 888, and/or 900 number. When you call these numbers, your phone number may be captured with a system called "Automatic Number Identification" or ANI. ANI uses equipment that automatically identifies and stores the number from which you are dialing
  • You applied for a credit card.
  • You contribute to charities. "Such give-away promotions may have less to do with gifts than they do with obtaining your number for sales pitches," BBB warns.
  • You're a registered voter.
  • You bought anything, or entered any contest, and gave your phone number in the process.
  • Your phone number is on your checks.

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To avoid unwanted calls, BBB recommends limiting where you provide your number, and to always read the fine print on disclosures, so you know where your personal information is going. Also, don't be afraid to report unwanted calls and texts to the Federal Trade Commission and or Federal Communications Commission.