The Incredible Onslaught of Scamming Telemarketers


  • “Hi, this is Rachel from Credit Card Services!”
  • “Hello, Seniors! Because you have been referred by a friend, we have a Medical Alert System for you free of charge!”
  • “It is critical that we speak to the business owner today! Our records indicate that you have not claimed your Google+ Listing!”

Some of these scams have been around for a long time; back in 2012, the FTC settled with five defendants for running the “Ann from Credit Card Services” scam, but like the mythical Hydra, for every head you cut off, two more grow in its place. It’s infuriating; my phone has long been on the national DNC register, but that tool seems to have about as many teeth as the CAN-SPAM act, meaning virtually zero. The Medical Alert scam appears to have ramped up during the last month despite being on the FTC’s radar for over two years.

At this point there is very little that the average consumer can do directly to stop the flood. But there are things you can do to reduce your own frustration level, and some which, over time, may help the authorities to take action against these scammers.

  • Report unwanted phone calls to the FCC, especially if you are on the Do Not Call list.
  • Make a note about the number that called you at so that others can be aware of which numbers are being used by scammers. Most of these spoof their Caller ID anyway, but it’s just one more piece of the puzzle that investigators can use.
  • Call or write your Congressperson. If they get enough people complaining about this, they’re more likely to lend their weight to an effort to eradicate the scum.
  • Add all scam/robocall/hangup numbers to your “reject list.” This will cut down on the number of calls you even are aware of.

In the meantime, remember what the FTC tells consumers:

If you get a call with a recorded sales message and you haven’t given the company your written permission to call, the call is illegal. Since the call itself is illegal, you can bet the offer is a scam

Be careful out there and watch over your vulnerable loved ones.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Those dratted robocalls

Got one today from 906-209-8746, and as usual, no one was there.

I have written about this scam before at “The FTC vs. The Hydra,” but an excellent description of these calls was left at by user NAS about one of those never-sufficiently-to-be-damned “credit card services” calls. It was valuable enough I thought I’d repost it here to give it wider exposure.

Unsolicited/Nuisance/Fraud/SCAM/Prank telephone calls are here to stay.  Robotic calling technology is readily available and unscrupulous people will exploit it.  Get a life and deal with it.

Being on the National Do Not Call Registry will NOT stop these calls.  Most of them come from overseas operations that are spoofing numbers in the United States.  They are outside of US laws and jurisdiction.  Your government is NOT the least bit motivated to protect you from this kind of harassment, either on your land line or cell phone.  The Registry only blocks a very tiny percentage of potential callers.  The legislation was written to protect political interests, not your privacy.  It is basically worthless.

Do not be surprised (or upset) if/when the caller hangs up as soon as you answer.  When your phone rings, they have completed their job.  These callers are NOT interested in talking to you.  They get paid for each phone connection made.  Any engagement of you in conversation takes away from their time to call other numbers.  What they are doing is compiling a list of “live” numbers so they can sell it to other scammers.  They are also looking for “dead” numbers to spoof for their future calls.

A hang-up call can also be an overseas “one ring scam” to get you to call back and sock you with exorbitant international or premium service call fees.  Typically those scams target cell phones, and originate form area codes 242, 246, 264, 268, 284, 345, 441, 473, 649, 664, 758, 767, 784, 809, 829, 849, 868, 876, and 869.  (You don’t have to dial a country code to call these international numbers.)  If you don’t recognize who is calling, forget about it.  Don’t answer.  DO NOT call back, unless you’ve got $20.00 per minute to burn!  If it’s important they’ll leave a message and/or call again.

What can you do?

1) Block the calling number.  Most cell phone service providers (and some cell phones themselves) have blocking services.  Many land line phone providers also have blocking services.  Contact your service provider (cell or land-line) to find out how to do it.  For a nominal one-time investment you can purchase a simple plug-in add-on device that allows you to manually block numbers to your land-line (Google “call blocker”).  Note that these callers don’t use a number very long before they switch to another and hit you again.  Get used to it.  It’s an unadvertised perk of having phone service.

2) If you do answer a call and get a real person talking to you, you have established a “business relationship” which takes you out of any Do Not Call Registry restrictions with them….as if they were abiding by those regulations anyway.  Engage them in non-committal conversation as long as you possibly can.  Act VERY interested.  Mess with their minds.  Give them phony credit card numbers.  Give them fictitious addresses.  Make up names.  Consume as much of their time as you can.  While you are taking up their time they cannot harass someone else, so you are performing a vital civic service.  When they do finally hang up, block their number on your phone.

3) DO NOT call them back!  DO NOT select the button that is supposed to remove you from their database.  These actions only registers your phone number as valid so they can add it to their list to sell to other scammers.  Such action also establishes that you have “done business with them before” which takes you off of the Do Not Call Registry for them….as if they would even consider abiding by the law anyway.

4) Telephone communications are regulated by state and federal governments.  Carry a card with the phone number of your State Attorney General (who has the responsibility of enforcing telecommunications laws).  When you get an unsolicited call tell them that they have caught you on a phone that can’t be used for personal use (or they’ve caught you on your cell) and ask them to call back on a different number.  Give them the Attorney General’s number, hang up, and immediately block their number on your phone.

The Old Wolf has spoken.