By Luanne Kadlub, Fort Collins BBB
Rachel of Card Holder Services continues to call my house a lot. And from what I’ve been hearing, she keeps calling most of you, too.
Rachel, of course, is Rachel the robocaller who wants to make sure I know that if I press 1, I’ll be connected to a live customer service agent who will be more than happy to see if I qualify for lower interest rates on my credit card.
Rachel isn’t the only computerized autodialer to have become a pest. Telemarketers pushing auto warranties, debt consolidation, medical discount cards and grant procurement programs – almost all being scams – are just as incessant. And although election-related robocalls are annoying, they are exempt from FTC rules and thankfully will end in just a few days.
It’s because of today’s technology that telemarketers can send thousands of calls per minute. They do so at a relatively low cost and with the point of origin disguised, making it difficult to find and stop the illegal activity.
Yes, you read that right. The calls are illegal under the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule – unless you provided advance written permission to be contacted. I don’t recall ever having done so and I bet you don’t either.
That means telemarketers get our numbers by purchasing master lists from other sources, copying public files or picking numbers at random.
If you choose to answer a robocall and “press 1” as instructed, your number is automatically added to a hot list and you’ll be transferred to a “qualifier” who asks questions to see if you fit the profile of the type of consumer the telemarketer is courting. If you qualify, you’re transferred to the sales person who gives the pitch. The bonus surprise is that your name and number will begin to show up on the lists of other telemarketers and you’ll get even more calls.
Consumers nationwide have been complaining loud and clear about Rachel and her cohorts. So much so that the Federal Trade Commission, which receives about 1 million robocall complaints every month, is stepping up its game to put a stop to the illegal calls.
The FTC continues to target high-volume offenders and has already stopped numerous companies responsible for making billions of calls since 2009. The FTC’s most recent effort is a $50,000 challenge to anyone who can devise a way to end robocalls on landlines and cellphones. If you think you’re up to the challenge, visit robocall.challenge.gov
Until robocallers are silenced for good, BBB and the FTC advise:
• Hang up. Do not press 1 or any other numbers to be taken off the list.
• Consider blocking the number(s).
• Report it at donotcall.gov
Start With Trust. For more consumer tips and information, visit newjersey.bbb.org or phone 609 588-0808.