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TeleZapper disconnects telemarketers

The TeleZapper is the latest device to block telemarketing calls, sending a signal that fools the telemarketers' computers into thinking the number is disconnected.
The TeleZapper is the latest device to block telemarketing calls, sending a signal that fools the telemarketers' computers into thinking the number is disconnected.  

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(CNN) -- It never fails. You come home, sit down for dinner, and the telephone rings. A telemarketer is trying to sell you something. Now, you can ask to be placed on a no-call list and hope you won't be bothered again, or you can try something else.

CNN's Natalie Pawelski spoke with consumer tech guru Marc Saltzman to find a new way to zap those pesky calls.

PAWELSKI: It is one of the scourges of modern life. I'm talking, of course, about those nasty telemarketing calls. Marc, I cannot stand them, they are a pet peeve of mine.

SALTZMAN: You're not alone. Everybody hates getting them. It's really annoying, but fortunately, it seems that we have a solution here.

PAWELSKI: Yeah, tell me about this, I love this -- I love the name of this thing: TeleZapper. Do I really get to zap the telemarketers?

SALTZMAN: Right. You do indeed. You actually are zapping their computers, because most of these telemarketing companies use these predictive dialing machines, so what happens is with the TeleZapper is that it emits a tone when you pick up the phone or if your answering machine picks up the phone, and it sends a signal to the computer that's calling you telling them that that number is disconnected. It fools the computer. It tricks them.

PAWELSKI: But wait a minute. What if it sends out one of these zaps to like my mother or something?

SALTZMAN: Well, it won't send out a zap to anyone who's calling you manually. It really only works with these computers that call you.

CNN's Natalie Pawelski has a look at the 'telezapper' to see if it can really rid your home of those pesky telemarketers. (August 24)

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PAWELSKI: So, how do you actually hook this thing up to your phone?

SALTZMAN: It is actually pretty easy. The device has three jacks in the back. One of them is to plug it into the wall, because it needs electricity. The middle one is to plug your phone in, and the third one here is to plug it into the wall.

PAWELSKI: What calls might the TeleZapper zap that you don't want it to zap?

SALTZMAN: Well, first and foremost, you probably don't want calls from bill collectors, right? I mean, that's probably a lot of the reason why people buy this TeleZapper. But, if you think about it, you may need to get that call if it was an oversight or something like that. And I know that a lot of bill collection companies do use these computer systems, so it may prevent those calls coming through. But it also can block calling cards.

PAWELSKI: So if somebody is using one of those calling cards to call me, it might zap them?

SALTZMAN: Right. Some people have complained that it won't process those calls either. So you have to turn off the TeleZapper, and that's one of the foreseeable shortcomings. It doesn't happen to all calling card companies, though.

PAWELSKI: You know, Marc, I have a voice mail system on my home phone. Will the TeleZapper work with that?

SALTZMAN: It won't. It will work with an answering machine, anything that you can actually pick up the call, you know, so if the machine picks it up, a physical answering machine. But if you subscribe to a voice mail service, often provided by the phone company itself, it won't work.

PAWELSKI: Still, it sounds like not a whole lot to pay for a little bit of peace of mind at the dinner hour.

SALTZMAN: Yeah, that's a good point. There's no monthly fee; it's a one-time cost, and by the way, it will work on any phone in the house for that entire line. So if you have six or seven phones but on that line, you'll just have to plug it into one jack. If you have more than one line, then you will need a second or third TeleZapper. (TeleZapper retails for about $50.)

Another good advantage of the TeleZapper is that it also works with junk faxes. I know I hate getting them because printer ink and paper cost a lot of money, and I hate getting junk faxes. Well, if you plug the TeleZapper into that line in the house, then it will prevent those as well.




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