If you have a cell phone, it has probably happened to you. Your phone rings while you're cooking dinner or watching television with your family.
What's at the other end?
Typically it's a recorded voice, saying something like, "It is urgent that you contact us regarding your eligibility for lower credit card interest rates."
It sounds like the call is coming from your bank or credit card company, but, in reality, many of them are just trolling for personal information.
Sarah Caleb, a mother of five in La Vergne, has signed her family up for the do-not-call registry and re-enlists annually.
"My husband is getting calls on his phone. I'm getting calls on my phone. It's obvious they're just all over you all the time," Caleb said. "It's extremely annoying."
Caleb is one of thousands of Middle Tennesseans and millions of Americans who are fed up with the calls.
In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received nearly four million complaints about telemarketers.
So how are the telemarketers and scammers getting around the do-not-call list?
Dr. Sachin Shetty, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Tennessee State University, said technology makes it possible.
"Software is available that basically allows anybody with a computer and Internet access to make a phone call," said Dr. Shetty. Do N
Free services available to just about anybody allows someone to make hundreds or even thousands of robo-calls with the click of a mouse. They can attach fake numbers to the caller ID, and somebody hoping to spam or scam can appear to be a legitimate company.
Many times the recipients of those calls are on the do-not-call registry.
"And that's one reason consumers should be worried," Dr. Shetty added.
It's just another reason to keep your personal information personal.
The bad news is there's no end in sight to the robo-calls. Dr. Shetty said cell phone providers would have to come up with a comprehensive plan and work together to help stop them, and that could result in another fee for customers.
But residents like Caleb might just be willing to pay that fee.
"I feel like my phone number is personal information. If I choose to give it to someone, that's fine. But if I don't, then they shouldn't have it and they shouldn't call me," she explained.