“Hello, this is Rachel at Cardholder Services.” Even though it’s an automated message, so many people feel like they know Rachel because she’s called so many times. Most people don’t want to get to know Rachel. They want her to stop calling, and the Federal Trade Commission says it’s taking action to make sure her robocalls stop.
The FTC said more than two billion calls were made promoting a variety of products including extended auto warranties and credit card interest rate reduction plans. Under a settlement, the FTC said SBN Peripherals which did business as Asia Pacific Telecom, Inc. will give up $3 million in assets. Plus, the FTC said the company will be banned from telemarketing.
The FTC said most consumers had no idea who was calling because the caller ID simply said “SALES DEPT” and displayed offshore numbers. The FTC said the prerecorded calls were made to numbers on the Do Not Call list.
The credit calls often told you to to press one to speak with an agent to lower your credit card interest rate. In one recording the FTC supplied, the message said it’s urgent you call concerning your eligibility. The FTC said 12.8 million people were actually connected to an agent.
One of the messages the FTC provided was from “Rachel” at cardholder services. Another caller used another name. It’s unknown if this is the only “Rachel” as lots of people say they’ve heard from a “Rachel.’
The problem is these companies are a dime a dozen. Who knows if the Rachel who called me is the Rachel that was part of this operation. It takes years to take down the companies behind the robocalls leaving consumers frustrated for years. It’s good to see the FTC cracking down, but a NewsChannel 5 investigation recently found few complaints are filed in comparison to the number of complaints filed.
The FTC gets thousands of complaints a day about possible violations of the Do Not Call list. They’ve taken action against fewer than 100 companies despite more than 8 million complaints.
New robocall rules are also being implemented that close some of the loopholes. A business now needs your written permission before they can call you with prerecorded telemarketing message.
You can refuse the permission in written form or by following a prompt on the voice message which often involves hitting a number on your phone’s keypad. You will be given directions at the beginning of the call telling you how to opt out.
Informational calls are still allowed like one from the airline letting you know your flight is cancelled or a reminder about an appointment or prescription refill. Debt collectors are also allowed to call.
If your name is on the Do Not Call list, hopefully another “Rachel” won’t be calling you soon. Click here to make sure your number is registered.
FTC looking for solutions
The FTC said every time they shut down one Rachel operation, another one pops up. The pre-recorded phone calls from Rachel are used by multiple companies. The second problem with tracking down the responsible party is the fact that the companies who use the calls and violate the Do Not Call list, take steps to make it difficult to find out who is behind the calls. The phone numbers used are sold multiple times and sometimes spoofed or faked so the number you see on Caller ID may not be legitimate.
That’s why the FTC had a $50,000 robocall challenge. It asked for the public’s input on stopping this complicated technological problem. A winner, if there is one, should be announced soon.
In the meantime, the best thing you can do is hang up. Don’t push one or any other number even if prompted. That won’t get you off the list. It just tells the company that your phone number is valid.
Finally, record any and all information and report it to the FTC. When the FTC sees a pattern, they investigate the case.