THE HELP DESK The Help Desk: Top Tips

Hanging up on telemarketers

'Robocalls' are now illegal. But that doesn't mean you're protected from unwanted sales pitches.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN personal finance editor

For more information on managing your largest investment, check out Gerri Willis' 'Home Rich,' now in bookstores.

NEW YORK ( -- Starting today, many "robocalls" from telemarketers will be illegal. But there are lots of other ways that telemarketers can get to you. Here is how you can tune out and reduce the solicitations.

1. Hang up on telemarketers

Businesses that try to sell products with automated, unsolicited calls will face fines up to $16,000 per call -- but it's not just automated calls that can disturb your dinner.

Put your name on a do not call list by going to or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. Keep in mind that non-profits, including polling groups, charities or political organizations are excluded from the do not call lists and can still call you.

You'll also continue to get phone calls if you've bought something from that company. If you're still getting robocalls, or calls from telemarketers that violates the do not call registry, get in touch with the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

2. Stop junk mail

To stop the avalanche of mail, opt out of receiving these offers. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can go to or call 1-888-5-OPTOUT.

Keep in mind, if you already have a credit card with a particular company, like Visa or Mastercard, you'll still receive offers from them. Another way to cut down on those offers ... don't give out your zip code when you're asked by a cashier at a retail store.

3. Banish spam

Do you get lots of junk e-mail messages from people you don't know?

It's no surprise if you do. These days our inboxes are practically overflowing with these bogus messages. To cut down on spam, use a different e-mail account for buying products online. Keep your preferred e-mail address for personal use between friends and family, and create a new e-mail account with a service like Hotmail or Yahoo for online purchases. Don't make your e-mail address public. Don't write your e-mail address on paper forms.

When companies ask for your address, not only will they send you spam, but your address may even be sold to a third party.

-- CNN's Jen Haley contributed to this article.

Got a financial dilemma? Go to to submit questions, read the Help Desk articles and check out new Help Desk videos. And tune in to CNN's Newsroom Tuesdays and Fridays, when Gerri Willis and other experts answer your questions.

Talkback: How often are you contacted by solicitors? Tell us what you did about it and share your comments below. To top of page

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