This is not a solicitation call!

“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!”

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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.

 

Stop what you’re doing!

“Please stop what you’re doing and listen to this very important message. I’m going to give you access to a pre-recorded message that’s going to show you exactly how to start putting $10,000 or more in your pocket in the next 10 to 14 days and $10,000 or more every 10 to 14 days after that. This message will absolutely blow your mind! So press 1 right now if you want to find out exactly how to put $10,000 or more in your pocket every 10 to 14 days. I guarantee you have never seen anything like this up until now. So press 1 right now to get all the details, or press 9 to guarantee that you’ll never hear from us again.”

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I can’t count the number of times I’ve had this robocall, along with “Hi! I’m Kelly from Credit Card Services!” and a handful of others. But this one is especially obnoxious.

First of all, these calls blatantly ignore the National Do Not Call Registry. Second, pressing “9” only serves to guarantee that your number is registered as a “live” number, and will then be sold to other telemarketers. Lastly, they’re selling a weak-sauce multi-level marketing package of informational and motivational material for $1,000, plus a $299.00 annual membership fee, with a no-refund rider attached. You shell out, you’re sunk. This particular dodge is being run by Exitus, but I suspect the same come-on is being used by a number of shady operators. [Note: Here’s a breakdown of how the Exitus plan works, astonishingly without a link to “another, better system” as is common with so many of these affiliate marketers. Bash the competition, and then sucker people into your own nearly identical scheme.]

They claim you don’t have to do any calling. But you will need to send referrals to your own marketing page, for the automated system to work for you.

How are you going to get referrals? Clearly, by using one of those never-suffiently-to-be-damned robocalling systems that will bother millions of people in clear violation of the law.

If you are looking for a business model that depends on a foundation of not caring how many people you piss off, or leaving countless broken bodies in your wake to get one customer, then this opportunity is for you.

If you have ethics and morals, compassion and concern for the well-being of your neighbor, better look elsewhere.

Every time I get one of these calls, I have visions of lowering the person behind it into a wood chipper, slowly – despite working hard on being charitable to all. That tells you how annoying I find these seedy scams.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Robocalls are Getting Worse

I’ve had five today alone, and now my auto-reject list is full.

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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.

 

 

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 800notes.com 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.