Four ways to avoid telemarketers and spam

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Dealing with telemarketers and spam SMSes is a reality that anyone who owns a mobile device has to contend with.

Consumers choose to react to calls or SMS messages differently, but one thing we all have in common is that we want to prevent pesky spammers and telemarketers from getting through in the first place.

Identify unwanted callers
Truecaller, a Swedish search technology company advises residents to take control over the calls that get through to their devices by installing free apps like Truecaller and Truemessenger. These two apps allow you to identify an unknown, unwanted call or SMS message before accepting it, thanks to their community built spam list reported by Truecaller’s 150 million users.

Users help report unwanted calls so the whole community gets smarter. Using Truecaller and Truemessenger gives users instant access to protection against the top spammers in their region, and this list is constantly updating, and getting smarter to protect them from bad actors in your area as well as other anonymous calls.

South Africans currently use Truecaller to protect themselves from unknown, unwanted and spam calls, and report over 6 000 spam calls every day adding to the list of over 700 000 registered spam numbers Truecaller already has in their database for the country.

Truecaller is available for free on iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Tizen and Nokia feature phones; and Truemessenger, the app to join the Truecaller family of products most recently, is available for free on, Android.

National opt-out databases
The Direct Marketing Association of Southern Africa (DMASA) has a National opt-out database where consumers can register in order to prevent telemarketers from contacting them. Of course, not all telemarketers will be members of DMASA but getting yourself registered is a good opportunity to eliminate at least 300 marketers at once.
For more information on how to register visit https://www.nationaloptout.co.za/.

Protect your personal information
Popi is South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act that seeks to regulate the processing of personal information, which includes a person’s contact details. No one should be able to contact you without your consent and Popi will ensure a penalty of a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months for spammers or telemarketers who contact you without your permission.
While certain parts of this Act have commenced, the majority are currently still pending and there is no commencement date as yet, which means it is not yet clear when the Act will come into effect. When it does, consumers will be able to report telemarketers who use their contact details without consent.

Get to know your rights
According to the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA) everyone has the right to refuse, stop or block any direct marketing communication. Once a consumer has been contacted by a telemarketer, he or she may request, during or shortly after the communication that the caller stop making contact, which the telemarketer must abide by.

The CPA also states that telemarketers aren’t allowed to charge a consumer a fee for making a demand to stop contacting them and if they do, then the consumer can recover the cost from the telemarketer.
Although it is quite clear that direct marketing attempts by telemarketers and spammers are unlikely to stop altogether, consumers can take the power back and protect themselves from the associated risks, distractions and annoyances.

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