The “Un-called” For Telemarketer (Part I)–How To Get Your Number on the Don’t Call List

telefoneIf you’re tired of getting call after call from telemarketers, you can substantially reduce the number of unwanted calls by getting your number put on the “Don’t Call List”, set up by the federal government at

Putting your number on this list won’t completely stop all of the telemarketing calls, but it will make a big dent in the number that you get. Any company that you have an account with, political campaigns, charity organizations and similar groups can still call. However, you can file a complaint against unwarranted solicitations by random companies.

texas-flag-map1If you live in Texas, you can get double protection (well, sort of) as there is also a state “Do Not Call” registration site. Even if you are not a Texas resident, this page has more detailed information about who can legally still call you and how long it takes “the no calling” to go into effect.

The “Un-Called” For Telemarketer (Part II)–Bank of America Likes To Make My Phone Ring

b-of-a-logoI have a Bank of America credit card, which has a zero balance on it (hurray, me!), but Bank of America would like me to do more with it, so every couple of weeks recently, they have called with some kind of offer or another.  I usually don’t wait to hear what the offer is, though, before hanging up.

I guess they are trying to make back some of the money the government gave them (well, really, we the taxpayers gave them) in stimulus money because they seem really stimulated to call me.

The most frequent offer they come on with is for identity theft coverage.  They, however, are part of the problem when is comes to the possibility of someone stealing my identity because along with the phone calls are all the offers and other correspondence I get from them in the mail.  The most hazardous mail from them comes in the form of personal checks they send to me about every month, which would be payable from my credit card account.  They are not alone among the credit card companies doing this, but at least for me, they do it most frequently.

When I growl at them over the phone about calling so often, the telemarketer tells me they will take me off of their call list, but, of course, that hasn’t happened yet.

I guess some of you might be saying, “Why don’t you just get caller ID?”  I suppose if I did that I’d just growl at AT&T every month when the bill came.

The “Un-called” For Telemarketer (Part III)–The Human Rights Campaign Wants My Gay Money

The phone rang around lunchtime today. A very polite man asked for me by name, and in that first utterance, I knew it was someone wanting money in some form or another. Because he actually seemed like he had “a little snap” (most telemarketers that call here probably would have a hard time at McDonald’s), I let him proceed longer than I usually do before hanging up the receiver.

hrc-logoThis time it was the Human Rights Campaign wanting me to re-up my membership; actually, re-upping isn’t quite what I would have been doing, if, indeed, I had responded positively to the call. I joined HRC for one year in 2004, if I remember correctly, and since then they call me and send me requests for money in the mail several times a year. They’ve probably spent more in trying to get more money out of me than the initial amount I gave them in the first place.

Human Rights Campaign is actually a euphemism. In reality, it’s a Washington, D.C.-based gay lobby. (They must feel it would make people uncomfortable if it were called the Gay Rights Campaign.) When I first joined, I was hoping that there was actually some kind of national gay rights organization that worked at the national, state, and local levels, some kind of group that I might be able to take part in. But HRC is not that kind of organization. They do have a sort of local connection in large cities like Houston, but these are, as far as I can tell, made up of some “upper-crusty” gays, who put on a Black Tie Dinner every year, another way of getting big bucks to funnel into the Washington lobbying group. This means HRC is just like any other lobby that tries to get congresspeople interested in its cause by putting dollars into their coffers.

When Bush was President, HRC’s message was that they needed money to counter the Conservative Right. It doesn’t seem to me that much was gained or lost as far as gay rights go during the Bush administration–with or without HRC. Now in their most recent mailout asking for money (yes, a phone call and an HRC letter all within a week), they say they want money because with a more gay-friendly President in office, HRC can do even more. It’s very difficult to see that whatever HRC does will have much influence.

If HRC and the money donors sends it were so effective, more should have been accomplished by now. And where’s the oversight? Where are all the donations that gay people make going?

One thing is for sure: a heck of a lot of it is going to Executive Director Joe Solomonese’s pocket. According to a recent article in the Washington Blade, in 2008 Solomonese received $338,400. For that, a lot more should be happening that just a few CNN and MSNBC mini-debates with conservatives.

A more effective national gay political organization would be one in which people can participate at all levels, and not one that just wants money, and more money. HRC could take the initiative and become that organization, but at the moment, all that it seems to want to be is a money funneler.