Q: Some months ago my husband fell for a telemarketing companys’ pitch and he signed us up to receive some magazines. As is usually the case, this service was OK, but this company proceeded to call us repeatedly. Their pitch usually went something like “Hi, we’re calling to make sure you are happy with your service, oh by the way, wouldn’t you like to sign up for this new service …” To make matters even worse, they repeatedly sold our information to other magazine companies who would call with the line, “We’re calling to verify your information and we’ll send you more magazines” Now keep in mind these other companies have all of our info – credit card info and everything. My husband thought they were with the same organization he originally signed up with – as we learned the hard way – they were independent companies charging us for more – new – worthless magazines. At one point we had three subscription services billing our credit cards for various amounts. We finally got all that straightened out and we have cancelled (via certified mail) all of these so called services.

The problem now is that one company insists we owe them a final payment of about $30.00. I have communicated with them via certified mail that they are incorrect and if they want to discuss it further to do so in writing. I asked them in this letter that they delete all of our information from their records and not contact us via phone again. They have harrassed us so much that I even subscribe to Bellsouth’s Privacy Director Service so that I can reject their calls when they come in. I’m tempted to change my phone number, but I wanted to ask if there were any laws governing this type of harassment?

A: You should follow up with the local office of the FTC and file a complaint. Complain also to the Attorney General’s office of the state (and the state in which the company does business) and the Better business bureau. Send copies of the complaints with a strong letter from you or, better yet, your attorney.

This should stem the tide. Next time, follow this advice: Never buy anything over the phone unless you initiated the call.