You can reduce, even eliminate, annoying solicitation

Just three magic words, "Hold on please" -- then without hanging up, put the phone down and walk away. Only when you hear the phone company's beep do you hang up. Enough people doing this would be so time consuming for the callers, it would make the sales "boiler rooms" grind to a halt.

Have you received those annoying calls that bring you to the phone, only to find no one on the other end? This is a telemarketing technique done by a machine that records the time you answered. Then a real person knows the time of day to phone when someone is most likely to be home.

There's a remedy for this too. When you get a call with no one on the other end, hit your # button six or seven times, as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine doing the dialing and it kicks your number out of their system. Your nuisance calls should decrease dramatically.

Are you annoyed by the advertisements that are included with your credit card and other bills? Simply return these ads with your payment. Let the company throw out their own junk mail.

And don't throw away all that other junk mail that finds its way into your box. Especially save those postage-paid return envelopes. Send them back with each others' material . Send a pizza coupon to American Express, the American Express promo to that oil company that wants your business, and on and on. If you didn't get anything else that day, just send them back their own application for credit, uncompleted, or even the empty envelope. (You might want to remove your own name and address from any of this stuff first.)

Maybe these companies will think twice when they find they are paying for their advertising, twice, and to no avail.

Certainly the trees would be happy.

With thanks to Steve Rubenstein of the San Francisco Chronicle whose inside knowledge is based on a brief experience with a telemarketing operation.