Here are some things to consider doing. Some items may not be applicable to you.


  • Place the following phone numbers next to your phones:
    • Emergency, e.g., ‚Äú911‚Äù
    • Poison control center(s)
    • Your doctor and/or hospital
    • Police department for suspicious activities


  • Place the following phone numbers next to your phones:
    • Frequently called numbers, e.g.,
      • Neighbors
      • Family
      • Friends
      • Stores

Calling cards:

  • Ask the phone company to leave your personal identification number (PIN) off the card

Making calls:

As soon as someone answers:

  • Identify yourself
  • Ask if you’re catching them at a bad time
  • Keep the conversation as short as feasible unless you’re sure the other person wants to continue

Prepaid phone cards:

  • Buy from an established company to avoid buying cards which may not work later and for which you can’t get a refund
  • Initially buy low denomination cards to see how well they work
  • Buy from a place you are familiar with so you can return the cards for a refund if they don’t work

If you have problems with a prepaid phone card:

  • Call 800 333-3513 (International Telecard Association Consumer Hotline)

Receiving calls:

  • Be aware that dishonest telemarketers prey on people who have done things in the past (e.g., enter sweepstakes) which indicate they may be gullible

When you answer the phone:

  • Identify yourself (usually just your first name)

If the caller is a stranger:

  • Don’t provide personal information the caller could be a con artist

If the caller is a telemarketer:

  • Quickly say: ‚ÄúNot interested‚Äù and hang up

If the caller is asking for a charitable donation:

  • Say ‚Äúwe don’t donate over the phone‚Äù and/or:
  • Ask the caller to send you information in the mail to give you more time to think about it and to get more information to help ensure it’s not a scam

If the caller is a friend but it’s not a convenient time for you:

  • Ask if you can call them back


After having phone service started:

  • Make a note of the customer name (e.g., yours) which appears on the bill for local phone service you’ll need it to change your long distance carrier
  • Request a discount plan don’t just use the basic service (it can cost you approx. $75 more per year)

Voice mail:

If you call a number and get a voice mail systems:

  • Try pressing ‚Äú1‚Äù or ‚Äú0‚Äù to get an operator, even if the message doesn’t say to
  • To bypass a long introductory message, press ‚Äú#‚Äù
  • Send a written service complaint to someone high in the company

If that doesn’t work:

  • Check a corporate directory at the library and write to the outside directors of the company (not executives of the company) they might be more willing to help since they don’t have management decisions to defend

If it’s an 800 number:

  • Look in the phone book for a local or conventional long-distance number
  • Call 1-800-555-1212 to see if there’s another 800 number, perhaps with a human operator


Thanks for reading!