The Lenny script's brilliance was its simplicity. Basically, it just waited for silence, then played back one of several clever lines recorded by a confusing-sounding old man. He'd ask the caller to repeat because he couldn't hear, divert questions by asking "Sorry, who did you say you were calling from again?" and tell long stories about his daughters then say "oh sorry, what was your question again?".
Note, I appreciate the cleverness and social engineering aspect of this, but I don't use it myself. I do have a blacklist on my home phone, but it only goes to a 'not in service' tone, and I've only ever added 4 numbers to it (one in particular was some guy that told me wife to "f* off" when she said she wasn't interested).
At a previous startup I worked at, we had an outbound call center with 500 reps who were incentivized by their talk time- the amount of time they spent on outbound calls.
We found about 5 sneaky agents who would purposely call Lenny and sit on the call doing nothing, doing their nails, reading their kindle to keep their metrics up and high and look like they were doing their jobs well (and winning monthly contest incentives that would give them small bonuses or extra PTO) instead of calling real customers.
I always wondered if the people who designed Lenny know about how some reps purposely call them to keep their own metrics up. Like, they think they are sticking it to the telemarketer, but really the telemarketer WANTS to screw around and take forever on the call so their performance bonus increases.
Once we caught on to this, the company changed the metrics around to number of unique outbound calls. But then the reps also figured out a way to game that. There were even a few of them who figured out a way to set up dummy numbers and they would basically call their friends, or even EACH OTHER at the call center, and sit on the call with their friends instead of calling the call center. I could never really blame these reps, it was such a crappy soul sucking job and I gotta say behind the scenes I was always impressed with their ingenuity to try and get around the metrics. These reps were making $11 an hour and had to clock out even to use the bathroom (illegal practice that the company just broke the law on).
I'm so glad I left that place, it was such a toxic atmosphere.
I suspect that the authors of Lenny would think that was the best possible outcome. Stop a telemarketer annoying people AND wasting the money their employers? Sounds like a pretty good outcome.
What could be better to hurt the company than that?
In other words, the goal here is to disincentize spammy calls from businesses.
Causing telemarketing to be less profitable and more costly is a good way to achieve that, so this tool being used by "both sides" is a good thing.
I've seen this play out at multiple places with staff all the way up to are managment/director level.
The concept has an extremely long and storied history. Just look up the 'Chinese Imperial Exams' for more info. Makes me really wish that Eastern History was taught in Western schools. Otherwise, we're doomed to repeat their past mistakes.
One example is that in Mexico, people don't have to pay property taxes until a building is complete, so there are many buildings with a false unfinished second floor so they can always be marked as incomplete.
It seems like courts would fix the problem here, since a judge could easily see the spirit of the law and fix the letter of the law accordingly.
Seems like the same sort of thing is playing out in companies using telemarketing.
> had to clock out even to use the bathroom (illegal practice that the company just broke the law on).
Interesting, this case was at a telemarketing company too. Wasn't my old firm, but this is EXACTLY the same thing that my old company did. Guess it's an industry wide practice!
> According to a DOL release, American Future Systems — which is based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and has a number of locations, including in Woodbury Heights, according to the company website — allegedly made telemarketers clock in and out for breaks as short as two to three minutes. The company's timekeeping system would reportedly subtract the break time from the employees' total hours worked each week.
> The DOL said workers were docked pay for virtually all time spent not making sales calls, sometimes bringing their wages below the federal minimum wage.
> The judge ruled that the practice violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and determined that the company is liable to pay back wages.
> In a statement, the company said it never denied any employees a break, but instead worked with them to create a flexible work environment that gave reps personal freedom.
That last sentence, lol.
just heard this lenny convo ~last week as i saw it posted on reddit. told my coworkers about it as well :)
edit: here's a great link about the video, with the bonus of giving subreddit info: https://np.reddit.com/r/itslenny/comments/40ul71/telemarkter...
It transforms an annoying experience into an entertaining one.
The argument that wasting their time will ultimately make it uneconomical for those who employ telemarketers is an interesting one, although I doubt we'd get enough critical mass to make a difference. Implementing a basic income so people don't _have_ to work as telemarketers would be better for society as a whole.
On the other hand, the calls from, "Microsoft Security" are actively trying to harm me, so I'll waste their time all I can, delaying their opportunity with the next person.
Being a telemarketer sucks. The work environment is often toxically focused on metrics, turnover is high, and nobody wants to bother people at home!
Sadly it paid much better than most other jobs available to me at the time, especially once I got half decent at it and starting earning commission, so I don't think things this will ever make it uneconomical for employers.
People who hung up right off, workers tended to say (to the disconnected line), "I'm sorry, I believe the call got cut off. I'll set you up for auto-reply every five minutes..."
A lot of telemarketer outfits with trashy setups are already at a disadvantage: Their predictive dialers leave a huge gap of silence at the beginning of an answered call because they don't properly time their dialing with available operators. Such a service could learn the vocal characteristics of your family and friends and would probably do a great job with recognizing cues telemarketers produce unconsciously.
1. Just don't answer any call if it's not in your address book, as I do if I'm not at a computer.
2. Do a Google search for the number, if your doctor, tailor, or dry cleaner doesn't come up, don't answer. Add these to your Address Book for the future.
Usually http://800notes.com/ or similar sites will come up for telemarketers, with many notes. If implementing #2 in software, it would make sense to go the other way, validating that a number probably is a telemarketer, instead of validating that it's something relevant to you (which would be harder).
It's less of a concern now that nearly everyone has cellphones, but I'd rather not risk missing a call like that :/
But anyway, Anveo has had a "robotalk" feature for years, though I dunno how much AI it has.
You know the one - a dude with a very thick Indian accent who wants you to install some program to "fix" your PC.
He isn't terribly computer literate, and Windows confuses the heck out of him (switched him to Chromebooks - so much better, but I digress).
Anyhow, after spending almost an hour with him, they hung up in frustration - as he could not follow their directions to get the malware installed.
So Windows is secure after all.
Thank you for the laughter!
But it's not even wasting their time as much as they're wasting mine. Never - not once - has a telemarketer call been something I would remotely be interested in. But they get paid for their time, while mine evaporates into the aether.
That's even assuming the best case scenario - that they're cold-calling me for a product I may conceivably benefit from. What about all the scammers? What about those who call up the elderly, and continue to try to sell them hard, even if it's obvious that the person on the other end should not be making financial decisions?
Maybe we should turn off spam filters to stop wasting the time of those who write the poorly worded viagra and aluminum siding ads.
Turning off spam filters will have no effect on the time of the person writing them. Thanks to the magic of computers, when the message is written once, it can be sent as many times as necessary, with a much smaller incremental cost than a human on a phone. The cost to a spammer to send a message that bounces off a spam filter is actually higher (due to the need to buy/find open/vulnerable STMP relays when their reputation falls or they're blacklisted) than to send mail that is delivered, so keep those spam filters on!
How does it do that? Does it have some sophisticated voice recognition that can pick up on emotional reactions? Or does it just jump into them on a schedule that's calibrated to when someone would likely start to be annoyed?
The "yeah uh-huh" stuff seemed pretty straightforward: it sounds like just shoots them off whenever there was enough silence to imply the telemarketer was waiting for a response.
Some of our reps at my old company would purposely change our AI to dial places like Medicare or social security so they could purposely get put on endless hold.
I can only assume that the telemarketer's day sucks enough without this type of software in play.
Edit: You can apparently be awarded $1500 in private action against an entity calling you if you're on the DNC list. For social engineering purposes maybe promise to split it with the representative and suggest that s/he might be personally on the hook for money if they don't help?
Also, yeah supervisors might be listening to the call/the call is recorded, but it would be uneconomical to monitor them all live all the time. Any attempt to turn them would hinge on their expectation that their remaining time at the gig is going to earn less than what they expect to get from you. If you can convince them that they could make $1500 now, that's a month's salary for them. If they expect to be fired tomorrow then even a chance that you're telling the truth starts looking worth it.
Unfortunately a self-hosted option doesn't appear to be in the works, but maybe with enough feedback he'll add that.
Even if somebody calls using VoIP, they will mention their products, so I don't know why that would be an obstacle to identifying them.
> ...he states only that player A is to be replaced with a machine, not that player C is to be made aware of this replacement.
Realize those reps hate their lives, hate their jobs and are probably getting $11 an hour in some crappy hell hole trying to make $$ to feed their kids... it's not a job anyone WANTS to be doing and they really don't WANT to be bothering you, they are just forced to by their employers.
If you don't want the calls, just say, "Please put me on your do not call list, thank you and have a nice day" and then hang up. Asking for the DNC is crucial- the words "DO NOT CALL" is the magic phrase that will get them to put your # into the blocked list of the autodialer. Some scammier telefirms won't actually add you to their DNC list if you say "stop calling me" it has to be the phrase "add me to your do not call list."
Also if you just hang up on them without saying anything, the software will automatically add your number back into the queue to reattempt you again and again sometimes within days. Our outbound autodialer software used to recall people who didn't answer and also everyone who sent the reps straight to voicemail. The autodialer basically throws everyone back in to get endless calls in perpetuity until you pick up and the rep talks to you. And in a big shop where you've got 500 reps making 200-250 outbound calls per day, they can try you 1x a week forever.
So if you really don't want ANY more telemarketing calls ever, stay on the line until the rep comes on, then say "please add this number to your do not call list, thank you, goodbye."
It can be necessary to talk over their opening spiel.
This is in the US for a number that is already on the national do not call list (which has lots of exceptions); I don't make threats or argue or anything sophisticated, just "Please put this number on your do not call list." Then hang up.
I guess this discusses some aspects of it: http://blog.credit.com/2011/04/getting-collection-calls-for-...
Though, to be honest, they seldom work flawlessly.
TM: Would you to know more?
TM: Do we have your permissions to record this conversation.
Bot: Uh huh.
TM: Do you agree to the charge of $123.45?
Bot: Yes, sounds good.
At what point is a person responsible for their job/career? Regardless of whether it was a choice or not, if your job is to annoy, harass, and manipulate people, those people being angry and treating you like shit is just an occupational hazard.
Also people complain about telemarketers so much, but how many calls are you really getting a day from them? Also, how many times has one really interrupted something important you were doing?
They're just sales people whose business meetings happen over the phone.
Yeah, you COULD treat your waiter like shit (angry customers are just an occupational hazard), but that's a shitty thing to choose to do, outside of extreme situations.
What waiter? A telemarketer is not a waiter. I choose to go to a restaurant. And if my waiter's service is bad, I can always leave, or complain to their manager. If the service is bad enough - like, oh, for instance, the waiter wastes my time by taking my order and telling me an hour later that they ran out of the thing I ordered - I might even be entitled to some compensation (a discount on my next meal, etc.)
I can't complain to a telemarketer's manager, and while I can hang up, I can't prevent them from calling me again, and I'm sure as shit not going to get compensated.
They always seem to call from the same number for me, day after day, then they go away when I block that number.
The problem is that robocallers often spoof the telephone number from which they call. It looks to me like they change the false, spoofed number about once a day. Given that I get 2, 3 or 5 calls from "Rachel" or "Ann" or "Microsoft Tech Support" a day, that's a lot of spoofed numbers to block
In short, not a solution, except from a narrow, legal standpoint.
If you're using a VOIP service, ymmv. Before I switched to Ooma, my previous VOIP provider allowed you have a whitelist. So basically anyone not in my contacts got bounced to voicemail, and my phone would not ring at all. Ooma's call blocking is obtuse and manual, but it's half the price of my last provider, and the call quality is way better. An unfortunate compromise, I guess.
As for land lines, I used to use a now discontinued device+software called a Phone Valet  connected to an unused Mac. It basically acted as an answering machine/lightweight IVR. My phone would ring once so that the caller ID could get picked up by the device, and then based on a set of rules, my phone would either continue ringing, hang up (on known telemarketer numbers) or redirect to voicemail (everyone else). It was a pretty neat device, but I guess the decline of the landline led that product to be EOL'ed.
Also, you choose to have phone service. One of the things that comes with that is the possibility you will be called by someone you do not know.
You CAN also complain to people in charge of telemarketers.
You also CAN prevent them from calling you again. There is relevant legislation, there is precedent, you have technological options (another user mentioned these, with links), you're just not exercising them, and choosing to be rude instead, hoping (possibly rightfully so) that that will deter them.
I've literally never, not once, had a telemarketer admit to me on whose behalf they were calling. It's always an instant-hang-up.
> There is relevant legislation, there is precedent
Again, I need to know who to point the long arm of the law at, and at best, it's very hard.
> you have technological options (another user mentioned these, with links)
That are easily circumvented by moving to a different number. (And now, maybe I've blocked my doctor's new number, or my mother-in-law's, or who else knows whose.)
> choosing to be rude instead
Yeah. I am. Fuck 'em. To use my 10-year-old's response, "they started it". It's rude to cold-call me and sell me something without knowing whether I could even use it - I don't need aluminum siding on an apartment I rent. It's doubly-rude - criminal, in fact - to call me despite me being on a do-not-call list. It's extra-flavored criminal to call me pretending to be Microsoft and to ask me to install malware on my device.
The absolute worst I could do is keep an honest person on the line and baffle them. As I said in my original comment, that's not cruel. It's rude at best.
My problem with the tone in this thread is that everyone is seemingly groupthinking on how to best use their pitchforks to hunt telemarketers.
The ones that are doing shitty stuff should be dealth with, but if your response to every single telemarketer (whether they are doing the really evil stuff, or just calling you at 3PM), is not reasonable.
They are calling from huge banks of numbers in my own local exchange, Ohio, Florida; you can't just block all numbers. I get 5-10 per day. They won't reveal who they are working for in many cases, so there is no one to complain about. The whole idea of being called by someone you don't know is at risk, and we are going to have to switch to a clean list, instead of a block list.
The best solutions just make it much more expensive for them to do this. What it does have to do is cost the company money, and increase total utility by preventing them from wasting others' time.
Also, I'm not against making this more expensive for telemarketing companies, I'm just against this particular means, and the seemingly prevalent groupthink that every telemarketer on the end of any phone line is a scumbag trying to harm you and your family in any way possible.
Also, all you're going to do is start an arms race. If it become profitable for telemarketing companies to hire developers to find ways to detect this "solution", things will just go back to the way they were.
This is not the same as treating a waiter like shit.
In fact, I not sure why this is considered treating them like shit. They will be talking to someone no matter what. Does it matter if they keep repeating themselves to one person or a bunch of people?
In one of the interviews, this guy says he was getting 4-5 telemarketing calls a day, some of them asking for someone who had the number many years ago.
You can't have actual empathy for anyone outside of your Dunbar number.
Even if you could, I would choose not to.
Have empathy for prostitutes, not for telemarketers.
Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.
Prostitutes aren't actively trying to scam you.
The job of the rep is to represent the company and that includes receiving gratitude as well as criticism, "I love you" as well as "you f*". Perhaps the problem is that there are people desperate enough to suffer abuse in exchange for money. We already solved similar issues protecting people from their own desperation with minimum wage and workplace safety laws so maybe we need a legally required "maximum personal abuse" requirement on employers to protect workers from this.
If they want to waste my time, I see no reason not to waste theirs.
Seems like bullying behaviour to be unkind to them.
A quick "no thanks" and hang up is enough.
That out of the way, y'all need to stop giving your phone numbers out to everyone. Google Voice is incredible for a very good reason.
If we want spammy telemarketing to stop, we have to make it unprofitable. The way to make it unprofitable is to ensure it results in less sales. Decreasing call volume decreases sales. Etc.
There are legal avenues, but it's incredibly difficult to follow through. Literally every time I've asked who was calling me - the name of the company, anything - I've been hung up on, instantly.
Yes, we can hang-up, but I see no advantage to doing anything beyond that like being mean, yelling, etc.
But if you're concerned about my actions, I don't yell or say mean things to telemarketers either. Depending on how much free time I have, I either keep them on the line, or I try to find out who's calling me so I can complain about them and hear the sound of them hanging up instantly
Those poorly-paid "telemarketers" are part of the problem. They deserve all they get.
Telemarketers are poor schmucks trying to work a job. Their companies generally will abide if you request the do not call list. Scammers probably will not.
Even before the no-call list became effective, there wasn't a lot of difference between a telemarketer and a scammer. For several years, I politely asked for a written copy of their no-call policy, every single telemarketing call. I got one. Telemarketing was a very shady grey area business long before the fraudsters made it legendary.
Do we blame Hitler or every person in Germany? The leaders bear the majority of the responsibility.
With respect to the 3rd Reich, the Allies didn't let people who pled that they were only following orders off the hook. Neither would most moral philosophers today. If you know you're scamming people, and the "service" reps for Cardholder Services certainly do know tht, then you're morally accountable.
If all (or the large plurality) of us would listen to the robocall, hit 1 or 5 or whatever to get to a human, and then waste the human's time, the telemarketers would end up out of business.
Of course, if the FCC did it's damn job, and enforced valid caller ID, the whole thing would go away, too. The fact that this hasn't happened is a crying shame, and indicative of some major failures in the US Federal government.
We are in agreement about this being a problem that the FCC or other gov agencies should be trying to stop.
Free market economics tells us that as the supply of some good goes down, the price almost certainly rises, all things being equal.
When the supply of "service" reps/scammers goes down, we have 3 cases:
1. Demand for that labor stays the same. In this case labor rates go up. This will make scamming less economical, driving some scam factories out of business.
2. Demand for "service" reps goes up: Same as case (1), but worse for the scam factories. More of them go out of business.
3. Demand for "sevice" reps/scammers goes down: this is really a case of "all things don't stay the same", because in this case, scam factories employ fewer "service" reps. Maybe some scam factories leave the market, maybe all scam factories make fewer calls a day.
In any of the 3 cases, WE WIN! Not as many scams are perpetrated, and the amount of calls goes down. Of course, an ideological free market analysis almost always gets things either partially or wholly wrong. We also don't know what the relationship between wages and number of people willing to put up with hobbyist scambaiters is. It's possible that like freeways on a Saturday, even a small worsening of job conditions makes the number of people willing to work at scam factories go way down. Or not. Unknowable. I just think that jerking the "service" reps chains as hard as possible is the only rational response.
Just tell them, "please add me to your do not call list" (magic words!) and they can put you in their software as DNC.
No, because then they get to annoy the next person.
The more of their time your waste, the less profitable it becomes, and the fewer telemarketers there will be. Wasting their time is a public service.
I tend to just hang-up without saying a thing. I highly doubt they take it personally. If they are bothered by it, they are not going to last long as a telemarketer anyway.
A quick "sorry, he recently passed away" is just as fast, and probably reduces future telemarketing.
On the one hand, the callers are humans with dehumanizing jobs who probably just want to have a non-awful conversation for a few minutes before returning to the auto-dialer to get rejected yet again. On the other hand, they get fired for not making their numbers, and their managers listen in on their calls to make sure they keep pushing the hard sell. On balance, I tend to go for polite, quick refusal. I wouldn't mind chatting for a few minutes, but they would probably get in trouble for that.
A quick "no thanks" gets them on the way to harassing the next person. And we don't want that, do we?
I don't actually believe you really give a shit about telemarketers pay at all; i've read other people say the same thing as you and it just doesn't sound convincing at all.
It's like when people say "well, you have to respect other people's beliefs". No...no, you don't. There's no persuasive argument for that assertion whatsoever. I accept that they hold those beliefs - like I accept the reality that some people can "offer" other members of society nothing other than the ability to make phone calls on other people's behalf. for profit, to people who don't want to receive them but who have no technical or legal way of preventing them - but I'd rather they didn't. There should be an opt-in list you have to sign up to to receive random phone calls at home from people hawking tat and services you don't need, and anyone doing this when you're not on the list should end up with a fine/jail sentence, but until that happens I'm going to waste as much of their time as possible.
If you're being called extremely consistently at the same inconvenient time, then your case is extraordinary, take some measures to make sure the company doesn't call you again (no call list, whatever else) -- don't take your frustration out on the person who's turn it is to call you.
I stated this before, but if you think about it, telemarketers are just sales people who work over the phone. Even when they're being overbearing, no one treats sales people this shitty in person.
There is a large group of people for whom there is literally no way of stopping them calling. That's the point you don't seem to understand. You're saying essentially "it's not their fault that they're illegally harassing you having taken steps to hide their identity so you can't report them". It's a moronic argument!
You're conflating "being an adult" with "meekly accepting that some people are going to phone you in the evening when you're relaxing with your family and try and bullshit you into giving them money without giving them a piece of your mind". All of the phone calls are inconvenient because they all waste my time; when are they ever not inconvenient?
You might just as well describe crack dealers as "businessmen, just after an honest buck".
Change your number? Threaten to sue? Actually sue? Call the parent company? Call whatever company that is hiring them (whose products they're trying to sell you), and complain?
How "large" is this group of people? Are you sure the loud complainers on the internet aren't causing overestimation on your part?
If you're not trying to be interrupted, unplug your phone/silence the ringer. Then you definitely won't get interrupted.
They may not be inconvenient if they are selling something you actually want. While this is unlikely, it is possible, this is the same rationale for other forms of advertising/marketing.
BTW, the same derogatory tone with which you mention "crack dealers", people also used (and still use) for people who sell pot (which is now legal in a few areas). Pot and crack are not the same, but the tone with which you're criticizing people who sell crack cocaine the substance is the same tone that people used while weed was illegal (and still use today).
Expecting someone to change their number to protect themselves from telemarketers is asinine.
> Threaten to sue? Actually sue? Call the parent company?
Threaten whom? The telemarketer? Instant hang-up. Their boss? Good luck getting them on the phone. Their actual company? Good luck getting a telemarketer to tell you that information; that's an instant-hang-up.
> Call whatever company that is hiring them (whose products they're trying to sell you), and complain?
Assuming there's even a legitimate item being sold, that's an interesting idea. The next time I get an offer to get an estimate for having siding put on my residence, I'll take them up on it.
I'm afraid, though, that the person who shows up to the apartment complex I'm renting from will just be a local contractor, who's actually completely innocent party who was duped by a "marketing company" into paying money for leads. Then I'll have wasted their time. I'd feel bad about that; not about a telemarketer.
Asinine options are options. It is hyperbole to imply that someone has zero options.
Also, your comment is contradictory -- you detail a possibility on how to find the company that is "providing leads".
Threaten to/actually sue...who? Number withheld; comedy foreign accent. I'm going to hire a private detective or hacker? Abduct them and bring them to the UK for trial?
They're often doing a survey on stuff like spending habits etc so it's not obvious who they're representing, or it's fraud like helping me "get money back" from a bank or insurance company. You understand these are criminals calling me, right?
"How "large" is this group of people? Are you sure the loud complainers on the internet aren't causing overestimation on your part?"
Huh? I'm only concerned with me and the calls I receive.
"They may not be inconvenient if they are selling something you actually want. While this is unlikely, it is possible, this is the same rationale for other forms of advertising/marketing"
Lol! That's adorable.
"BTW, the same derogatory tone with which you mention "crack dealers", people also used (and still use) for people who sell pot (which is now legal in a few areas). Pot and crack are not the same, but the tone with which you're criticizing people who sell crack cocaine the substance is the same tone that people used while weed was illegal (and still use today)."
Pot! Lol! You mean reefer? Cannabis should be legal; to grow, sell and consume. If you sell crack you're a cunt, though, because crack is exclusively used by end of the line idiots who sadly don't always die before they've caused other people to suffer.
Or even worse, develop technology to make telemarketing calls even more efficient?
We have "door knockers" where I live (Ontario, Canada) who present themselves as representatives of gas and energy companies (and some have even gone so far as to say they work for the government) who try and get you to show them your energy bill and/or try to get into your basement to give you a "free inspection" and then get you to sign up for something you don't want.
In my experience, saying "no thanks, not interested" (in person) just makes them more aggressive in their claims with the same scripted retorts- i.e. they're there in an official capacity (they're not), all the other neighbors let them sign up (probably not), they have a photo id (that anyone with computer skills can reproduce) and that they're there to save you money (doubtful).
They show up in my neighborhood every couple of months, and after a while, you sorta get worn out by the routine and find that being rude/abrupt is the easiest (and sometimes only) way to get rid of them.
Like I said in my comment above, it's not cruelty.
My point is simple, you're choosing to be rude, and that is fine, completely your choice (especially given what you've stated about what it's like where you live). But that reaction is not necessarily warranted for the person that gets 1 call every few months from a telemarketer.
Sorry, I was quoting myself.
And I'd argue that what warrants the reaction is how many calls the telemarketer is making, not how many the receiver is picking up.
Sure they do, in similar situations like door-to-door sales. They're pushy, annoying, and coming to you, not the other way around. Often their whole business relies on screwing over old people. Anything that can be done to ensure they bug fewer people in a day is a public service.
My retired parents live on the same block as me, and I'm always telling them to never let in or hand over personal information to a "door knocker" (someone hawking energy savings or a free inspection). Those guys definitely take a different tack with older people-- one guy who I turned down moved on to my dad and told him he was from the government, which was an outright lie.
Of all the people who knock on my door, the energy salespeople are by far the worst, because they're incredibly aggressive and use shady tactics. There are tons of horror stories about them in Ontario, Canada . I would love to see an outright ban on door-to-door energy sales here.
Now that they reveal their numbers I immediately block that number on my phone after I hang up the call.
I have told them I am ineligible (I don't own a home), that I am uninterested (satisfied with my current security situation), that I believe them to be a scam in the first place, and that I would prefer that they stop calling. I have asked to be removed from their list. I have asked to be put on their "do not call" list. I have submitted the numbers on the FCC web page. I still receive about 1-2 calls a month from them. Their EV from calling me is zero (or negative, if I manage to track them down). If they are really interested in wasting their time, they can do it without wasting mine as well.