I woke up early one morning from the incessant ringing of the dorm phone. Because I used to run my business from the room, I had to answer it.
Picking up after the eighth ring, I was greeted by a voice from beyond America’s shores. Not wanting to raise my voice and wake up my roommate, I quietly told my foreign friend that I was not interested.
She wouldn’t take no for an answer and told me I was preselected to receive a credit card. This was crap – not only because they tell everyone that, but because my credit at the time was so bad, I had started making a paper fort out of my bills.
The telemarketer told me how I could sign up today and start spending as soon as we were done talking. I laughed and said, “Sure, what do I need to do?” After a long pause, the telemarketer asked for my personal information. I needed more supplies to finish my fort, and you could just Google me anyway, so I gave it to her.
Finally she asked for my social security number. I told her I refused to give it out because it’s illegal for her to ask. I’m not sure if that’s true, but if a college can no longer take your social security number to identify you, I’m assuming a billion-dollar leech can’t ask either. She tried six more times before I hung up. This may be common sense to some, but it is worth repeating that you should never give out your social security number over the phone to a stranger.
I contacted my Resident Directory and asked if it was illegal for a company to call the dorms. Apparently after my room was called they proceeded to dial every single room inside of the building. The response from the Resident Director was that it was not illegal for a company to, essentially, spam a dorm unless the residents individually sign up for the National Do Not Call list.
Credit card companies control people through debt. Once they have you signed up, with a high credit limit, they know they have you for life. 83% of all undergrads have a credit card, according to a study by Nellie Mae. They hook students with slogans like “build your credit now” and by advertising the card like it’s your gateway to independence. It’s not. Students who want a credit card should make the decision on their own, not because of overly aggressive, quasi-legal telemarketing campaigns.
Students moving to a new area for college, or those lucky enough to get on-campus housing at increasingly space-crunched college campuses, should take advantage of the National Do Not Call list as soon as they move. An unscientific study conducted on my residents when I served as an RA found that out of 100 students, almost none of them knew the list existed. The National Do Not Call list also covers your cell phone, making it worth the five minutes it takes to register and enter your numbers.
Find further information on the Do Not Call list and how students can protect themselves from telemarketers and other nuisances at the Direct Marketing Association website.