Telemarketers can be a pain in the ass (there is really no other way to put it) but responding in the wrong way can make the situation worse.
As an ex-telemarketer, I know first-hand what it is like to be on both sides of the call and trust me, telemarketing sucks for both parties involved. I worked for a small call centre in Cambridge called C.S.I. that specialized in collecting donations for charities like the New England Police Officers Safety Association. To this day I sincerely hope it was legitimate, though I now have my doubts (I was only 15 then).
So how do you get rid of telemarketers?
Firstly, Do Not Ignore Them
Telemarketing companies use automted phone dialers to call large swathes of “potential customers”. This means that if you think you can get away from them by not picking up the phone because they will “give up”, you are probably wrong. These phone systems “got time fo’ dat” and will keep calling back until you decide to answer your phone (they may eventually declare you unreachable but it isn’t worth all of the ringing).
Instead, pick up the phone, interrupt their speel to save time and tell them that you are absolutely not interested and ask them to take you off their call list. It helps to mention this in several ways such as “please remove me from your call list and add me, permanently, to your do not call list”.
You can always avoid unknown callers, but you will likely miss important calls from friends and family whose numbers are not familiar to you — something that I am personally not comfortable with.
Just picking up and saying you are busy or not interested will not work because either because systems like the one I used include a “not interested” button that can be pressed, which ensures that you will get a call back so that they can reconsider in the future.
Secondly, Hide Your Number!
Adding yourself to the National Do Not Call List is a good starter. This will certainly reduce the volume of calls, but telemarketers with special exemptions or rogue telemarketers will still target you.
Giving out your phone number for giveaways is a sure-fire way to end up on a list as well. Chances are they captured consent not just for themselves but to share your number with other parties as well.
I have been giving this advice for years, though I do not know if anyone is actually following it. Give it a try.
You can read more goodbye-telemarketer suggestions here.