As we head into election season, be ready to be bombarded yet again by political phone calls soliciting your vote or asking for your money. The bad news: There’s very little you can do about these calls.
The fastest-growing complaint in 2013 was about violations of do-not-call rights and other telemarketing abuses, according to a survey published this week by the Consumer Federation of America.
The National Do Not Call Registry can help you limit the number of phone calls and robocalls, which are the prerecorded and automated kind, which you receive. But unfortunately, that registry doesn’t apply to political phone calls and robocalls, only those from commercial callers.
Because of limitations in the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, calls from or on behalf of political organizations, charities and telephone surveyors are still permitted – so listing your number on the registry won’t stop political phone calls, according to the FTC.
That doesn’t mean you’re completely helpless. Efforts are slowly gathering steam at the state level to block political robocalls. In March, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported that Wisconsin was mulling adding political robocalls to the state’s do-not-call list.
“With every election season, you see a higher number of calls,” said André Jacque R. DePere, one of the authors of a bipartisan bill that would ban political robocalls. “Technology has made it easier and cheaper to make these calls.”
South Carolina had passed such a law banning political automated phone calls, but it was ruled unconstitutional by a District Court judge at the end of June for unfairly singling out political speeches and violating the First Amendment.
The only thing left to do is to directly contact specific candidates who have called you to ask to be removed from their list. While it’s not a guarantee they will stop, it’s worth a shot.
“It never hurts to ask, even though charities that make their own calls, political organizations and pollsters aren’t covered by the Do Not Call rules, if you ask them not to call you again, they may agree to honor your request,” the Consumer Federation of America notes on its website. “
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