Answering the Phone and Talking to Strangers

  • Never give your name or number to a person making a wrong-number phone call or to anyone you don't know.
  • Hang up if you receive a threatening or harassing phone call. Call the SDPD if these calls are repeated. Use the non-emergency numbers, (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154.
  • Don't indicate you are home alone to anyone you don't know.
  • Install caller ID and an answering machine. Don't pick up a call from a number you don't recognize. Use the answering machine to screen calls. Pick calls up if they are from people you want to talk to.
  • Be suspicious of all solicitors, especially if the caller says you have won a prize but asks you to send money first, says you have to act right away, fails to identify the sponsor, uses a variation of an official or nationally-recognized name, e.g., Salvation League instead of Salvation Army, offers to have someone pick up a cash payment from your home, says he or she is a law enforcement officer who will help you for a fee, requires you to attend a sales meeting, directs you to dial a pay-per-call 900 number, delays the delivery or a product or prize, etc.
  • Register online for the National Do Not Call Registry or call (888) 382-1222 from the phones you want to register. Telemarketers check the registry every 31 days so it may take that long before your numbers are removed from their call lists. This should stop all but exempt calls from nonprofit groups, charities, political organizations, survey companies, and companies you have dealt with recently or signed a contract with that includes permission to call you. If telemarketers ignore the fact that your numbers are on the registry you can report them at the above number or website and sue them for violating your rights. For this you'll need to keep a record of their names and the dates of the calls. If you receive non-exempt recorded telemarketing solicitations known as robocalls, now banned by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you can file a complaint with the commission online or by phone at (877) 382-4357.
  • Never give your bank account, credit card, debit card, or Social Security number, or any personal information to an unknown caller. Just say “no” and hang up on anyone who asks for personal information. Don't ever assume a friendly voice belongs to a friend.
  • Only give your personal information when you have initiated the call and are sure the other party is legitimate.
  • Ask a charity to send written information about its finances and programs before making any commitments.
  • Call the Better Business Bureau of San Diego County at (858) 496-2131 to check on any unsolicited offers. Or visit its website at www.sandiego.bbb.org for general consumer information and tips on avoiding various types of fraud.
  • For additional information, contact the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center at (877) 382-4357, the Federal Communications Commission Consumer Center at (888) 225-5322, or the California Department of Consumer Affairs Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210.