Su Lum: |

Su Lum:

If you’ve noticed an increase in telemarketing activity recently, it’s probably because everyone is trying to get in one last whack at you before the Colorado telemarketing law goes into effect on July 1.

Those of you who don’t appreciate being hauled out of the bathtub by a pitchperson (probably in Arkansas) selling subscriptions to the Denver Post, log on to and get your phone number on the “Thanks, but NO THANKS” list.

If you don’t have access to the net, but aren’t interested in hearing any more about those lifetime light bulbs, you can also call 1-888-249-9097 to get your number on the NO CALL list. These are also the numbers to use if you keep getting calls after July 1.

Could this really mean the end of Sprint interruptus? Alas, probably not. Those telemarketers, they are a wily bunch. There are loopholes in the law and where there are loopholes, they will find a way to slither through them, as sure as sure can be.

Calls on behalf of charities are exempt, as are calls of a political nature; this could be an interesting challenge for the telemarketers.

The other night I got a call from a young man, which started out with the tip-off opening, “Is this Mr. Lum?” For all I know this kid has a screen up informing him of my property assessment, the books I’ve checked out of the library and the last time I ordered a honey-baked ham. Not knowing then that the law didn’t kick in until July first, I told him I was on the telemarketer no-call list and he replied, quite huffily, that he wasn’t SELLING anything, this was a SURVEY.

I should have kept him on the line to see what direction this “survey” would take, but I was in the middle of something and short on patience. “What’s the survey ABOUT?” I asked, forcing him to veer from the script. The thing I hate most about telemarketers is the SCRIPT. A bit rattled, he said, “You know, insurance, investments, stuff like that.”

Survey, my ass. Call it “information gathering.” You give them the information and, sooner or later, they’ll use it to sell you something if you give them your e-mail or post office address, that’s one way around the telemarketing law.

A few weeks ago a message was posted on the mirror above the sink at The Aspen Times, which serves as our in-house bulletin board, about a scam you may already have been hit by. I have received at least four of these calls and was, as Freddie Fisher would say, too dumb to figure out how it worked but too smart to respond.

Normally, telemarketers never leave a message on your answering machine. Au contraire, their calls are placed by computers and skip over answering machines, only stopping when they get a “live one” on the line. This explains the pause you hear before, “Is this Mr. Lum?” It takes a second or two for them to realize they have a bite.

But if you come home and see your machine flashing and get a message saying that you have been pre-approved for millions of dollars worth of credit for 0% interest if you call back quick, followed by messages saying “I can’t understand why you haven’t called back,” DO NOT RESPOND!

The scam is that if you call back, you will drown in delays and voice mail urging you to stay on the line, and you will be BILLED, through the NOSE, for every second you’re connected. Your money would be better spent on the psychic hot lines.

(Su Lum is a longtime local longing for the sound of silence. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.)

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