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Telemarketers Can’t Talk to the Dead

This article was written by in Tips. 9 comments.

I was speaking with a co-worker who used to be a telemarketer, and she told me that if I’m ever again harassed by any strangers on the phone trying to sell me things I don’t need, I should just say, “Mark me down as deceased.” You don’t even have to pretend to be a different person.

Apparently, they have a check box on their form for “Deceased” that will prevent them from calling you ever again. What’s more, this misinformation gets passed downstream to the other telemarketers that they sell their lists of “customers” to, so those people won’t be calling you, either.

This is just a quick and dirty alternative to the more official process that Flexo has previously talked about.

Published or updated August 21, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Matt

Great suggestion – I’m so going to use this the next time I get a telemarketer calling me. Thanks!!

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avatar Dividend Growth Investor

This is a fun idea. But what happens if the information is passed on to your credit card company or affects your credit report somehow . Can this result in you being reported as “dead” everywhere to the extend where you can’t buy a car, can’t open a checking account, and can’t even get a passport so you might not even be legally able to work in US?

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avatar jim

That’s a clever idea… I haven’t gotten many calls though since putting myself on the opt out list.

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avatar Clint

It’s just as easy for a telemarketer to use the “Add to Do Not Call List” checkbox as it is the deceased checkbox. The difference is there are no laws regarding the treatment of “deceased”, but there are laws and fines associated with the treatment of phone numbers that have been requested to be added to the do not call list.

I know a telemarketing phone company that took “deceased” to mean… call the same number again a couple of days later and instead of asking for the “deceased” person’s name, ask for “the person who handles the phone bill.”

So, you really should stick to the standard advice of asking to be put on the do not call list.

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avatar Jess

*Giggle snort!~

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avatar Jim

If you haven’t done so then sign up for the national Do Not Call list. I’ve been on it for years and I get virtually no telemarketing calls. It works like a charm.


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avatar CommRE

I am absolutely amazed at how well the do not call registry worked. When it first came out I highly doubted its effectiveness. But I receive very few calls. Now, for a bit of humor…

While in college, I took a night job as a telemarketer for MCI. I really enjoyed it because the pay was great and I knew not to take anything personally. As much as I despise telemarketing calls, I think everyone should do it for one month just for the experience. Anyway, this was in the days when MCI was pitching their “Friends and Family” plans. The call went like this:

Me: “Hello Mr. X, this is XXXX from MCI. How are you this evening?

Mr. X: “I’ll stop you right there. I don’t need your services.”

Me: “Well, I think once you hear about how our Friends and Family plan can save you money you will.

Mr. X: “No, I don’t need your services because I don’t have a telephone.”

Me: (being a smart college kid and all) “Well, if you don’t have a phone, how are you talking to me??”

Mr. X: “I’m not!!!”

Me: (called him right back) “Please don’t hang up. I just wanted to tell you that was a great answer. Have a wonderful night!”

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avatar CommRE

Meant to add in the above comment that Mr. X slammed the phone down after saying “I’m not”.

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avatar Xena

I have an annoying telemarketer calling my house lately asking to talk to someone that is deceased. Telling them that the person is deceased does little good. They said they would call back later.

They claimed the deceased e-mailed them requesting information. They were an old lady that never used a computer in their life. Definitely didn’t ask and definitely not interested even if she was still here.

If they call back I’m hoping to try the disconnected phone sound to get rid of them.

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