Hopefully you have already registered on the National Do Not Call List: https://www.donotcall.gov/confirm/conf.aspx

Your state may also have their own Do Not Call List, which may prevent some calls that are allowed by the National laws. In Texas you can find this at: http://www.texasnocall.com/

but these don’t prevent all unsolicited calls. 

One of the ways telemarketers and others try to reach you is by using a predictive dialer which is technology that uses a computer to dial different phone numbers and when one answers, connect the call with an operator (i.e. telemarketer).  This frees the humans to spend more of their time talking to pestering people.  It also explains why when you sometimes answer the phone and go “hello?” and find there is a delay before you are speaking to a real person, if you can call cold-calling telemarketers real people, that is.

By law the predictive dialer is supposed to connect you to a human being within 2 seconds of hearing your voice or else they must play a recorded message.

Here’s what I’ve noticed – when I get a call from a suspicious number, I could of course just let it ring to my answering machine.  Problem is that sometimes this might be someone whose number I don’t know (perhaps they’ve even blocked it on their end), or it could be the likes of a telemarketer or other unsolicited call. 

Even if I let a telemarketer’s call ring to voicemail, a lot of the time I will see on my answering machine that their system hung up without leaving a message and I will likely get a call back at another time.

However, if I answer the phone, but don’t say anything, an interesting thing happens.  Most of the time, the call is just silent.  If a real person is calling me, they will say something.  If this is a friend, I’ll typically recognize their voice, or else they will tend to use my name.  Telemarketers will often just hang up, or if they do speak, it is usually “Hello? Mr. or Mrs. Finkel?” My turn to go click.

So what’s new here?  Telemarketers use calling lists and realistically they have no real way of knowing if the phone numbers they have are good or not.  They are working in bulk – this is why they buy large lists of phone numbers and why they use predictive dialers. It’s a numbers game – they just need some of them to answer in order to do their business.  By not speaking when I answer the phone, I believe I am confusing their system and acting more like a non voice number, such as a fax machine. 

What I’ve noticed is that I don’t get a call back from these systems when I use this technique.  I suspect that when they don’t hear a real person or a voice on an answering machine the number gets flagged as no good in their database and they ignore it.

Works for me!

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