An answer to unwanted calls: Just ignore them

Friday, December 6, 2013, Vol. 37, No. 49

A few weeks ago, I began a column with “Harassing phone calls. What other term would fit?” And ended said column with a plea for help. Reader mail came pouring in.

Victoria’s glad to know she’s “not alone with these calls. I got them at all times of the day and night! It made me furious! I am on the Do Not Call Registry, but I had bazillions of them show up on my landline … [A]fter the 1st round of these calls I started documenting and keeping track of every one of them ….

“I contacted the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, and they [suggested that I] file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and I did. The numbers who were doing the calling have stopped, but new numbers are always coming in. …But I won’t stop, either. I will keep persisting. …To report violations to the Federal Trade Commission, call 888 382-1222 or visit”

Denise writes:

“1. Don’t play the game.

“2. Commit to memory those area codes where you have friends or family. If it’s not one of them, don’t answer it.

“3. Save the number to your call block list.

“4. Keep a written record and complete an FCC complaint. Worked for me in one instance.

“5. If you insist on playing the game, when you pick it up … maintain silence until you hear the other end respond or click. There’s a delay from when you say hello to when the solicitor clicks in. I’ve done that to find out who it is for the FCC complaint.”

Marjorie writes:

“[L]et the FCC and even [Tennessee Congressman Steve] Cohen’s and [Tennessee Senator Bob] Corker’s offices know. … When there are too many to let the problem go, the Commission may act. Also, the FCC will respond to pressure from Congress. All of the Commission and members of congress have easy, online complaint forms.”

Bill writes:

“[M]y wife and I are constantly annoyed with unsolicited calls …. A good day is two and a bad day could be four, possibly five. [We] are friends with our state representative, and at a recent gathering, I asked him if this was on the legislature’s agenda. … He said that the vast majority of these calls originate outside of the US, even though they are routed through domestic area codes. Therefore, there is presently nothing that state governments can do to stop them.

“Some of them offer an option to ‘punch’ a certain number to discontinue the calls, which I have done with the result being that the same calls originate elsewhere.

“Like you, I either hang up quickly or if I don’t recognize the caller ID, or at least the area code, I don’t answer.”

Thanks to all who responded. Including Tanya, about whom I will write next week. I’ve taken action and intend to take more action. Tune in again next week.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at