Q I've been on the Minnesota and national do-not-call lists for years, yet I have received no fewer than two sales calls per day from companies I've had no prior dealings with. My friends report similar increases in unsolicited sales calls recently. A customer service person at Qwest told me he believed most of those calls were being placed from Quebec or the Caribbean, since U.S. do-not-call statutes do not apply to solicitations coming from outside the United States. Are there new ways to stop these calls?

A Your best bet is the Do Not Call list. The Minnesota list is included in the national list.

Being signed up doesn't mean you won't ever get calls. Some calls are allowed from:

• Political organizations, charities and telephone surveyors.

• Companies with which you have an existing business relationship (a company may call you up to 18 months after you make a purchase or three months after you submit an inquiry or application.

• Companies that have your permission to call.

In addition, Minnesota allows calls from solicitors who do not intend to complete the sale over the phone, but rather hope to arrange a face-to-face sales presentation with the same individual.

Crackdown on illegal calls

You also might get illegal calls. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a crackdown last year on companies and individuals accused of violating requirements of the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry resulted in six settlements. Collectively they imposed nearly $7.7 million in civil penalties, with an additional complaint that will be filed in federal district court.

The actions were against companies such as adjustable-bed seller Craftmatic Industries, alarm-monitoring provider ADT Security Services and lender Ameriquest Mortgage Co. Altogether, the FTC has filed 34 cases in enforcing the DNC Rule, which was implemented in 2003.

But enforcement begins with reports of violations. If you are getting unsolicited sales calls, complain. Go to www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236) to file a complaint. You'll need to provide the date of the call and the phone number or name of the company that called you.

Yes, some calls come from overseas, but complain about them, too. Last year, the FTC charged a group of Canadian telemarketers with deceiving U.S. consumers and violating provisions of the National Do Not Call Registry.

Are you listed?

You can verify that your number is on the registry two ways: online at www.donotcal.gov (click on "Verify a Registration"), or by calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236) from the phone number you wish to verify. Follow the prompts.

To add a number to the registry, use the same website or phone number (call from the number you want to register). If you register online, you will receive an e-mail from the registry as part of the confirmation process. You will need to click on the link in this e-mail within 72 hours of receiving it. If you don't click on the link in the e-mail, the number you tried to register will not be added to the registry, and telemarketers may continue to call.

Send your questions to Fixit in care of the Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488, or call 612-673-9033, or e-mail fixit@startribune.com. Past columns are available at www.startribune.com/fixit. Sorry, Fixit cannot supply individual replies.