“This is not a solicitation call!
Hi! This is Kelly from the Credit Card Rewards center! We’ve been monitoring your credit card activity for the last six months: Congratulations! You’re eligible for 0% interest on your approved credit cards! Press 1 to speak to a live agent, or press 9 to be removed!”
Just Google “This is not a solicitation call” and see how many hits you get at websites like 800Notes, WhoCallsMe, and other scammer databases.
I noted with interest that the Economic Times of India just reported the arrest of 500 call center employees who were threatening the US citizens and siphoning off their money. That’s a good piece of news – I wish they could shut them all down.
I’ve often wondered if the people who lend their voices to these robocalls have any idea what their recordings are being used for. It would seem hard to record a pitch like that without knowing that something shady is going on. On the other hand, despite the chipper-sounding greetings, perhaps they don’t care, and they’re just as crooked as the people who are running these robo-calling scams.
It seems that there are relatively few operators. According to sources at the Black Hat security convention in Las Vegas, 51% of these robocalls originate from one of 38 outfits. That gives some hope that the flood may not be unstoppable, or at least that a serious dent could be put into their operations if they can be tracked down and apprehended.
While it seems that no one is doing anything, the opposite is true. Last June the FTC shut down Payless Solutions, a robocalling scammer who was charging hundreds or thousands of dollars for interest-lowering solutions, often without the customer’s permission.
I’m grateful to anyone who is diligently working to make sure the criminals behind and involved in these despicable operations are stopped and justly rewarded for their nefarious activities.
The Old Wolf ha spoken.
I’ve had five today alone, and now my auto-reject list is full.
Most recently I’ve seen:
- “Business Opportunity” scam (multi-level marketing, one-up gifting scams, etc.)
- “Congratulations! Your phone number has been randomly selected by Expedia / Travelocity / Whatever to receive two vacations for a promotional price of $799.00!”
- “Business Loan Center”
All of these have reps working in call centers in India, the Philippines, and other such places.
I’ve written about these calls before, but the landscape has changed a bit. Instead of using dead numbers to use for their caller ID spoofed number, they are using randomly-generated or dynamically-created phone numbers; since my phone number is based in Utah, I’ve been getting a lot of calls that seem to be from local numbers but which actually originate elsewhere. The Caller ID number, however, may belong to a real person.
I’ve even been called by people asking me to “stop calling them” – clearly my own number is showing up on other people’s screens.
Articles like this one at HuffPo give a few ideas for people with land-lines, but the sad truth is that there is little to nothing that can be done to stop this plague unless some serious effort is made at the legislative level, and our political leaders probably don’t even understand the full scope of the issue. Witness the CAN-SPAM act, for which our legislators roundly congratulated each other, and which actually increased the amount of spam being sent out by unethical and unscrupulous operations.
The FTC has not been idle, but it’s like a hydra – for every bad actor they shut down, ten more seem to spring up. This infographic gives a lot of good information about how the calls are driven, and why the problem is so massive.
The best thing I can think of is for people affected to contact their representatives and in no uncertain terms express how pissed off they are with the criminals who are interrupting our lives multiple times a day with fraudulent proposals.
Maybe we could hire some robocalling outfits to flood their phone lines 24 hours a day with automated requests to do something about the problem؟
The Old Wolf has spoken.
- “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 800Notes.com 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.