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FTC Targets Massive Car Warranty Robocall Scheme

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the hopefully-with-bombs dept.

Spam 361

coondoggie writes "Robocalls are a scourge, and the Federal Trade Commission today took action against one outfit by asking a federal court to shut down companies that have been bombarding consumers with hundreds of millions of allegedly deceptive robocalls in an effort to sell vehicle service contracts. According to the FTC, the robocalls have prompted tens of thousands of complaints from consumers who are either on the Do Not Call Registry or asked not to be called. Five telephone numbers associated with the defendants have generated a total of 30,000 Do Not Call complaints. Consumers received the robocalls at home, work, and on their cell phones, sometimes several times in one day. Businesses, government offices and even 911 dispatchers also have been subjected to the calls, the FTC said." Reader powerlord points out that another such company, not named in the FTC filing, raised the ire of thousands of internet-goers, who struck back by rickrolling the company's voice mail and digging up personal information on the company's president.

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First Post Rick Roll (-1, Offtopic)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975423)

Never gonna give it up.

Never gonna let you down.

Never gonna run around.

And miss first post.

How about.... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975425)

How about making it so all telemarketers have to register a certain caller ID that say would be (C)*insert name of company here*, then it would be trivial to block all corporate calls. Thus making it easy to have a caller ID filter to purchase to block all telemarketer calls. This would be a lot easier than the do not call list, more effective and wouldn't censor anyone.

Re:How about.... (5, Insightful)

bstreiff (457409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975451)

How about making it so all telemarketers have to register a certain caller ID that say would be (C)*insert name of company here*, then it would be trivial to block all corporate calls. Thus making it easy to have a caller ID filter to purchase to block all telemarketer calls. This would be a lot easier than the do not call list, more effective and wouldn't censor anyone.

These people are already blatantly ignoring the Do Not Call list. Why would they bother to give a legitimate caller ID string?

Re:How about.... (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975507)

...Because its a lot easier to convict them and a whole lot easier to find out what they are doing wrong and how to fix it. With a do not call list, its possible that they accidentally dialed the wrong number, didn't have an up to date version, etc. Then the mess that is the do not call list adds to the problem.

A simple string would take all excuses away and make it simpler for the FTC to do its job.

Re:How about.... (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976009)

...Because its a lot easier to convict them and a whole lot easier to find out what they are doing wrong and how to fix it. With a do not call list, its possible that they accidentally dialed the wrong number, didn't have an up to date version, etc. Then the mess that is the do not call list adds to the problem.

A simple string would take all excuses away and make it simpler for the FTC to do its job.

Your solution requires warrants. These are only easy to get if somebody accuses you of being a pedophile or a Muslim extremist or somebody who posts blogs that are critical of your local police department.

Re:How about.... (5, Funny)

Divebus (860563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976117)

Your solution requires warrants.

My solution requires air strikes.

Re:How about.... (1)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976103)

Caller ID is trivial to spoof. Your solution does not work.

Re:How about.... (4, Insightful)

pawstar (930281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975539)

... because the phone company would have to provide the legitimate string. Simple solution, make it illegal for phone companies to spoof caller id.

Re:How about.... (2, Insightful)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975649)

Caller ID can be spoofed by the end user. There are products out there that you can buy to do it, though the names escape me at the moment.

Re:How about.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27976001)

In most circumstances, you cannot spoof the caller id on the CPE side of the line. Since your having to use a major carrier to send your call through, the carrier will ignore the caller id information you provide and override it with the caller id information specified on your account (i.e. Business name or Given name).

Re:How about.... (3, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976041)

To elaborate on what the AC posted. The phone company knows who makes calls, but the end user doesn't. The phone company just doesn't care and won't respond to complaints unless they are forced to by the police or government. The police won't get involved unless they get complaints from the phone company. The government won't get involved unless...

Notice a trend here? These have been my personal anecdotal experiences anyways.

Re:How about.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975857)

Even better idea that would add no new stuff - just make it illegal to call people on the do not call list. And allow people the sue if they are called even once

Re:How about.... (2, Interesting)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975577)

It gets worse than simply ignoring the Do Not Call list. You see, in order to be compliant with government regulations, legitimate marketing firms need to purchase an annual subscription to the DNC list. They then need to purge from their prospect list any number appearing in the DNC list.

Unfortunately, the government sells this list to anyone who asks; thus, Russian telemarketing companies sometimes buy the DNC list as a source of pre-verified, valid phone numbers.

Re:How about.... (1)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975911)

There are issues with these calls even if they are legitimate.

I can look up Jim Smith in the phone book and assume he has a visa.

"Hello, is this Jim Smith"
"This is Jerry calling from Mastercard. We see recent unusual activity on your Mastercard and are concerned that you may be a victim of credit card fraud. We see 14 purchases in the past 24 hours totalling $2200"
"I understand your concern Jim, that is why we are calling - please calm down sir. Unfortunately, due to privacy laws and to confirm whom I am speaking to before we put a hold on the card I will need to confirm your credit card number, expiry date and social security number"

If any such call were made that didn't confirm caller identification there would be privacy concerns. If any such call where made and asked you for identifying information there would be privacy concerns.

Re:How about.... (2, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975975)

NONE of those calls are legitimate. Credit card companies simply block the card and wait until the customer notices and calls them.

Re:How about.... (4, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975997)

Wrong. I get called once every few months by my visa card due to something that sets off their software. It hasn't been real identity theft yet, but they do call you before shutting off the card. Shutting off the card is done if they can't contact you.

But yes, it's safest not to believe it when someone calls you. I always hang up and then call the number on the back of my card to make sure I'm talking to the CC company. The last few times I did that they forwarded my call directly to fraud without going through voicemail, despite just calling the general customer support number- they must have had the phone number on the card flagged.

Re:How about.... (4, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976037)

credit card companies (banks) watch account habits and WILL call you if you do something weird. My manager got a call last year from his bank asking if he was in the USA. There was someone at an atm in hong kong in the process of trying to guess his pin number.

They don't verify anything really, they just plain cancel the card and will send you a new one with a new number. There's no reason for them to verify you ARE who you are, they're more interested in verifying the OTHER guy ISN'T you and cutting it off ASAP. Since they have your number and you're agreeing with them there's a problem, they don't need any more incentive.

Re:How about.... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976079)

...Kinda like spammers forging From: lines...

Re:How about.... (1)

sgladfelter (889576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975677)

Personally, rather than create new laws to control this, I'd rather the telco's take care of it themselves.
I'd love it if my carrier offered a premium service to block all robocalls or sales calls. I have to believe that they know exactly who and where these people are. Why it isn't already an option in my area, I have know idea.

Re:How about.... (5, Interesting)

Divebus (860563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975725)

Anything which makes unwanted bells go off in my house by remote control is an invasion of my peace and quiet. Get some laws passed that allow the victim to hit #5 on their phone to charge the caller $5.00, then I'll be happy. If someone WANTS these calls, that's fine. Don't push #5. Most people don't want these calls and the victims should be able to instantly make these groups feel the pressure back in a big way.

Groups like The American Teleservices Association [ataconnect.org] (rebranded to remove "Telemarketing" from their name) and The Direct Marketing Association [the-dma.org] talk U.S. Congressmen into passing laws which enable annoying, invasive and often fraudulent activities from this lowlife "industry". It's an industry to the extent that people get paid to ring bells in my house but jeez - earn a living some other way. Annoying everyone over the phone [I believe] is not an "industry" as the lobbyist associations claim. If there was money in ringing your doorbell and hitting people with buckets of paint ten times a day, I'm sure there would be a lobbyist group for that, too. Oh wait... that's PETA.

Re:How about.... (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975923)

If someone WANTS these calls, that's fine. Don't push #5. Most people don't want these calls and the victims should be able to instantly make these groups feel the pressure back in a big way.

The US cellphone system is as broken as SMTP (the cost of delivery lies on the recipient). If I had an option to charge US$ or block every call that I had not explicitly white listed, I would use it.

Your first statement is so nice, I want to repeat it.

Anything which makes unwanted bells go off in my house by remote control is an invasion of my peace and quiet.

Amen! Brother Slashdotter.

Re:How about.... (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976073)

You are NOT new here, are you #19540? Tnx for the comment.

It shouldn't take this long to figure out there's a pattern of abuse going on. Here's an alternate idea: let people dial something like #11 during a call which records the connection as an annoyance in a database. If a pattern of annoyance develops from a particular source, a red light lights on the FTC directors desk and he calls out the black helicopters.

Nah... I'd rather have the $5.00.

Re:How about.... (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975983)

How about making it so all telemarketers have to register a certain caller ID that say would be (C)*insert name of company here*, then it would be trivial to block all corporate calls. Thus making it easy to have a caller ID filter to purchase to block all telemarketer calls. This would be a lot easier than the do not call list, more effective and wouldn't censor anyone.

The problem here is that you need the cooperation of the phone companies and the police (not a criminal matter I know, but if they are motivated enough...) and government here. These agencies don't have much motivation for pissing off political donors.

And your solution is just another excuse for phone companies to provide yet another billable service. The do-not-call list should instead be made effective instead of just being another political exploit to appease the masses.

Hurray! (1)

teridon (139550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975459)

These bastards have been calling my place of work for months. I always hit 1 and wasted their time for a few minutes.

Re:Hurray! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975479)

OK, that's great about the warranty and stuff, but what I really want to know is... what are you wearing?

Re:Hurray! (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975931)

+1

I suppose I should have asked the person I talked to what color of underwear she was wearing ...

Re:Hurray! (3, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975589)

I almost miss getting telemarketing calls. It was kinda fun to have someone that you can mess with and insult in most disgusting ways without feeling the least bit bad about it.

Re:Hurray! (0, Flamebait)

brandon.excell (1016537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975695)

I almost miss getting telemarketing calls. It was kinda fun to have someone that you can mess with and insult in most disgusting ways without feeling the least bit bad about it.

I used to hate people like you. I worked for a telemarketing company for a while. It was bad enough when I was on the phones and had to deal with you, what was even worse is being in QA/Mgmt and having to listen to the other reps deal with it and have to give negative reports because of their inability to do their job because of morons who couldn't simply ask to be removed.

Re:Hurray! (4, Insightful)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975771)

I used to hate people like you.

I'm pretty sure that's the idea, yes.

Re:Hurray! (5, Insightful)

dstar (34869) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975777)

Sucks to you. But hey, you have to expect that sort of thing when you take a job you know is immoral and unethical.

Re:Hurray! (2, Interesting)

brandon.excell (1016537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975925)

But hey, you have to expect that sort of thing when you take a job you know is immoral and unethical.

What exactly makes the job immoral and unethical? I will admit that I myself have been annoyed by some in the industry who could care less about regulations, but the company I worked for did nothing to show either of these things. When I worked in QA, if I saw/heard anything even remotely questionable it was immediately reported to both my manager and the rep's supervisor. The problems rarely surfaced again after that. I really hate that people generalize an industry because of a few bad apples.

Re:Hurray! (3, Interesting)

rebullandvodka (569646) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975993)

I agree immoral and unethical are not the best choice of words. Words that come to mind are despicable, ugly, vile, slimy, unworthy...

By 'few bad apples' do you mean, 'overwhelming majority'?

Re:Hurray! (3, Funny)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976017)

I also really hate that people generalize ax murderers and baby rapists because of a few bad apples.

Re:Hurray! (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976023)

Your story is a little different [on the positive side] from everyone's earned impression of telemarketers. It still smacks of trying to call armed robbery where nobody actually gets killed "ethical".

Re:Hurray! (5, Insightful)

Captian Spazzz (1506193) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976051)

The fact that you call and harass me without my consent with no valid business reason. Because you harrass me at work when I am trying to do my job, because you waste my money for calling me and making me use up cell phone minutes waiting for your stupid rep to put me on your do not call list that I'd say a good 50% of your industry ignore or try to circumvent anyway.

I don't NEED you to tell me what I want or need. If I need or want your product I will seek YOU out not the other way around if I have not contacted you before then leave me the frack alone!

In reference to my previous post if you don't understand this and choose to work in that industry then you deserve what you get.

Re:Hurray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27976109)

Boo. Fucking. Hoo. Your entire goddamn post misses the point entirely.

When I worked in QA, if I saw/heard anything even remotely questionable...

What, like your co-workers cold-calling people at home/work/commute who never asked for your help?

...it was immediately reported to both my manager and the rep's supervisor.

Who gives a flying shit about the quality of the call after the fact, when the very call itself is an invasion of somebody's privacy? There aren't a *few* bad apples in the industry, it's the whole fucking bushel.

Go cry moar, asshole. /rant

Re:Hurray! (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975973)

What's immoral or unethical about selling by phone? You might as well say television advertisements are immoral and unethical. Or even door to door sales.

Re:Hurray! (1)

Captian Spazzz (1506193) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976127)

Except that "in theory" Television advertising pays for free over the air programming and helps lower the cost of cable programming

Bugging me over my telephone does not lower the cost of my phone bill.

I do think Door to Door sales is just as skuzzy. They respect my "No Solicitations" sign as much as the telemarketers respect the DNC list.

Re:Hurray! (1)

rebullandvodka (569646) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975841)

That is the most satisfying post I've read. Ever.

Re:Hurray! (2, Insightful)

Divebus (860563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975965)

...and have to give negative reports because of their inability to do their job because of morons who couldn't simply ask to be removed.

Poor baby. How's this for a negative report: you'll just put my name on a list for the next shell company and call me back. You've earned everyone's ire.

Re:Hurray! (1)

Captian Spazzz (1506193) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976025)

Forgive me if I don't give a s***.

People like you call me and annoy the hell out of me all the time. You know what you do is skuzzy and unwanted and that 90% of the people you call isn't interested in the snake oil your selling.

If your choose to be a sales moron then its your own damn fault.

Re:Hurray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27976077)

I used to hate people like you. I worked for a telemarketing company for a while.

And I still hate people like you.

Unless you quit because you truly had a change of heart about the ethics of annoying people at random to try and sell them shit they don't need...

To coin a phrase, "If you're straight, would you suck off a dude for a million bucks?" If the answer is "yes", we know what you are, and you're just haggling over price.

Oh, and fuck you, and fuck everyone you worked with.

Re:Hurray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27976085)

 
So you and the rest of the bottomfeeders in telemarketing call people who've never heard of you. These people have no desire to hear anything your sales pitch requires you to recite. You rattle on breathlessly to a stranger at the first "hello?" Your dialer scripts call at obscene hours of the day, multiple times until a live person answers. There's a chance your unwanted call interrupted some activity or meal, or drew the recipient's attention from something more important than your shameless peddling (meaning anything, in this case). You spoof your caller IDs. You don't comply with requests for calling list removal, nor do you give your physical location's telephone number or address out (fearful of retribution, maybe?) yet you have my god damned number, somehow, and who knows what else.

And you have the fucking nerve to get angry when people flip you a taste of your own shit? Fuck you.

Re:Hurray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27976059)

I've also been getting these calls at work.

This past Monday however things went differently than normal.

My part of the department I'm working in always meets on Monday mornings to coordinate what we are working on.

We always meet in a conference room. Part way through, we hear a beeping sound.

After some time, we realize that it was from the phone part of our teleconferencing setup (we've never gotten a call on the line unless it's pre-arranged).

We answer it, and it was the car warranty robocall.

We hang up, and a number of us comment about how we've been getting that robocall on our office lines.

Anyway, it certainly interrupted our meeting. /state employee

I actually find those amusing. (3, Funny)

blakedev (1397081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975485)

Whenever I'm having a bad day I can just wait for their call and keep yelling obscenities and laughing like a twelve-year-old. In fact yesterday morning I got one and greeted with "PENIS PENIS PENIS PENIS PENIS PENIS lol."

At least 3 complaints from me... (5, Informative)

Tmack (593755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975497)

One for my personal Cell phone back in march, two for my business cell in march and april. The calls clearly violate FCC regs by being completely automated, no mention of the company name, calling numbers already on the DNC, etc. The first call I opted to talk to a rep, when he connected and mumbled the name of the company, I asked his name and the company name, and he hung up. Second call I told them I was on the DNC, that I was filing a complaint and to make sure I was on their DNC as well. Third call I told them they were in violation as I was already on both the national DNC and theirs, the rep again hung up on me.

If you get one of these types of calls, just go Here: http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm [fcc.gov] and fill out the form. In a week or two you get the print copy mailed to you of your filing.

Im glad they are acting on these @holes.

Re:At least 3 complaints from me... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975617)

Same here, on my cell phone for a vehicle that doesn't exist. So I reported it to the government via the website. I'm not positive, but I suspect it was the same outfit that's the article talks about.

Re:At least 3 complaints from me... (5, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975715)

x2. I get alternating calls from these guys and a company that wants to help me lower my rates.

That said, the best thing you can do is waste their time. It's like Groundhog day. Every time they call I get to try something different.

Sure warranty my 1969 VW beetle. Click
Oh I don't carry a credit card balance. Click.
*FCC*. Click
vs
Oh my Gawd. I'm so glad you called. So yesterday I was out shopping and my credit card got declined. Have you ever had your credit card declined, trust me it sucks. So how much can you lower my rates. [Cut them off] So that's great. So when do you think that I can get this rate actually implemented. I'm planning on proposing to my girlfriend, do you have a girlfriend. I'm so in love, she's going to love her ring. I just put it on layaway with the last $500 on my Visa. You do lower the rates of Visa right? [cut them off]. So. Oh, you need my number. Damn it, my card is out in the car. Can you hold for ONE second. Please. [set phone down for 5 minutes]. Hey are you still there? Great. So my card number is, hey wait a minute. Are you sure this is safe. One of my friends, John, yeah he got his credit card stolen through his pants. Some guy had this magic reader that you just need to brush up against someone and it steals the credit card.

See how long you can keep it going...
-
That said, Today I just left my cell phone at home. I came home to 5 missed calls.

I've filed both companies with the FCC, but the calls keep coming. I can't wait for both of these to stop.

Thank God. Now onto debt restructuring... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975505)

Thank god for the FTC. "This is the second call..." ... Bullshit. Everyone I know has gotten this at work, on cell phone, etc.
Now for the next aXXhole.. "hi, we were discussing your debts, and I can see that..." or whatever, go DIE...

Same outfit, different MO (4, Insightful)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975519)

For a few months, I had the vehicle warranty scammers calling me on my PREPAID mobile phone. That's actually abated somewhat. Funny, because I don't live in the US much and I don't own a car.

Now, I think the same group is calling with health insurance. Repeatedly.

Oh, I've had a few calls from random "IT support" tell me that they're calling me about my recent computer problems.

Someone needs to nail these guys to the wall.

Re:Same outfit, different MO (0, Redundant)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976007)

For a few months, I had the vehicle warranty scammers calling me on my PREPAID mobile phone. That's actually abated somewhat. Funny, because I don't live in the US much and I don't own a car.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. They made my pre-paid phone a lot less useful.

Oddly enough... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975557)

I lived in Seattle for seven years and didn't have a problem with these types of calls, but as soon as I got a phone number here in San Francisco I get these car warranty calls. Now I almost never answer a call unless I recognize the number.

A few months into living in Seattle I got a call from a phone company to my cell phone and I proudly informed them that unsolicited commercial calls to cell phones were subject to a fine in WA. I didn't push for their info, but let them off with a warning. After that I never had junk calls to that phone number. Recently I was looking for the relevant law and it seems I mixed it up with WA's anti-spam law -- where you get $100 for every unsolicited piece of spam you report.

Re:Oddly enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975795)

I think there must be something state by state or something. I (living in WA) never got vehicle warranty/scam of the month. My mom (living in ID) got dozens a day.

This is the second notification that the warranty. (1)

alexfeig (1030762) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975575)

I am *extremely* happy about this. I've been getting, on average, a call a week on my cell phone from these guys.

Now if only Captain Jack would stop calling me... (anyone else get those ALL ABOARD cruise ones?)

Re:This is the second notification that the warran (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975591)

Is that the cruise guy with the foghorn sound? Not lately, but I got a bunch of them this winter. (I suppose that's a good time to try to sell cruises in Canuckistan)

The "cardholder services" guys are my current scourge, at least 3 or 4 calls a week.

Re:This is the second notification that the warran (1)

alexfeig (1030762) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975829)

That's the one!

So they get shut down and... (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975583)

A newly-registered corporation with a very similar name comes along and uses the same offices/machines/employees to carry on the work...?

Re:So they get shut down and... (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975753)

Oh. Good point. Everyone. Call it off. Don't bother. Kill Joy has just made a revelation.

Re:So they get shut down and... (1)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975885)

The FTC is asking the court for Temporary Restraining Orders that would halt the illegal practices while the cases proceed, impose an asset freeze on all the defendants, and put two of the corporate defendants under the control of court-appointed receivers. The agency also is seeking a permanent injunction that would force the defendants to give up their ill-gotten gains so they can be used for consumer redress.

I doubt the resources for such a scheme are trivial. So yes, this could make it impossible for them to finance a brand new corporation doing exactly the same thing. Maybe some of the lawyers in the audience can tell me if the above actions actually matter.

Re:So they get shut down and... (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975949)

The assets are pretty modest. Underpaid, out of work people whom you pay late or forget to pay at all: office space you lease and forget to pay for: a phone bill you pay once, and then ignore, and if you're really industrial you buy one of these (http://www.sandstorm.net/products/phonesweep/) to war dial your entire target area codes and cut down on wasting employee time with faxes, computers, or phones that don't answer. (They're fascinating devices: the best wardialers I've seen on the market.)

Re:So they get shut down and... (5, Interesting)

TheReaperD (937405) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976075)

Actually, they don't wait to get shut down, usually.

I used to work for one of the top level (*cough*) product companies in this type of scam. I was too naive at the beginning of my employment to truly know what was happening. I learned really quick after the FTC paid a house call and quit the company. No charges were ever filed.

In short, this is how the scam works: A company is selling suspect products, web pages, in my case (hey, it was the 1990s). The hire a shady parent telemarketing company who then sets up, or hires out, smaller boiler room telemarketing companies. These smaller companies are the ones actually placing the calls and rarely have much more than 50 employees. They sell the "product" and everybody takes a cut of the deal. The small companies are rotated out, as the parent post pointed out, with a similar company with the same office, equipment and employees under a new company name and official owner every 3-6 months. This is faster than the FTC and FCC can process complaint claims. When said government agencies question the upstream companies about the crooked deals, they point to the small boiler room company, now closed and with all it's paperwork destroyed, as the source of the criminal act and show the feds sham paperwork that states their "clearly legal guidelines that the rogue company clearly disregarded." Of course, everyone, at the managerial level, is in on the corrupt deal and are fully aware it's illegal. But, this shell game scam creates plausible deniability and prevents the government agencies from putting the top level companies out of business and their owners in jail.

The owner of this "warranty" company in TFA sounds just like the boss at the company I used to work for and is likely just as guilty. The biggest problem is that this system works so well that you have to put some really suspect laws on the books to have any hope of going after the people really responsible as you can never prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were having proxy companies commit a crime for them unless they make a serious mistake.

On a slightly related note: Why do government agencies never talk to the likely underpaid and abused file clerk(s) when they investigate a company? Why do they only interview the managers? The managers usually have a well prepared set of lies for the feds and self motivation not sell out the company. The file clerk(s), even if they've been given the company lie, will likely be more than willing to sell out the managers, especially if immunity and a cut of the fine are offered, and will have the documentation, if there is any, to back up any claims they make. (Guess what my position was at the web company?)

Finally (5, Interesting)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975595)

I've been getting calls on my cell phone and my work phone (many other people in my office have been getting calls too). Funny thing is I have a company car that is only a year old, I doubt the warranty is running out, especially since my company BUILT the car.

I actually called the number back to figure out what the scam was, the guy on the other side asked me for my auto information. I told him that since he called me up, he should already know what my information is. Then the guy hung up on me.

I hope there is a public lynching.

Extend the warranty on our 20+ used cars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975633)

I work at a car dealership and I've gotten 3 of those calls just this week on the company phone. They don't seem to exclude anyone.

About time (1)

DarkTitan_X (905442) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975643)

I've been getting these assholes calling me every day for two weeks. I started getting creative with them and for some reason they're never clued in that I'm pulling their chain. Even though the guy on the phone hangs up on me, they call me back the next day.

Stuff like this is my inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xc9cFXOoZBM [youtube.com]

Re:About time (5, Funny)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975713)

I gave them Todd Davis' social security number a few times.

Please fuck them up (4, Interesting)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975653)

And do it hard. You'll have every single person in Canada thanking you. You see, we, too, have a Do Not Call list. Highly publicized, and for a while, highly effective. Until the CRTC (it's like the FTC with a missing chromosome that drank lead paint as a child) decided to sell the list to anyone who would give them a piece of hard candy. This included every single spammer, scammer and fuckbot. A few months ago, everyone in Canada got barraged by these exact same calls. Our CRTC then said "durrr, well, they'se in the States, so we won't do anything about it beaver poutine Mulrouny."

So the Do Not Call list became "Cheap list of verified numbers for people who can give you money but whose government can't arrest you."

So as the title says, please, when you find them, make an example out of them. Call them terrorists. We'll agree then look the other way!

Why I'm not on Do Not Call (1)

VValdo (10446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975907)

So the Do Not Call list became "Cheap list of verified numbers for people who can give you money but whose government can't arrest you."

I always figured it like this-- the Do Not Call list has certain exceptions [fcc.gov] -- political calls (of course), charities, and companies with whom you've done business (e.g., even though you cancel AT&T, they continue with the "please switch back" calls), non-profits, etc. There may be even more exceptions [ca.gov] (like local businesses within 50 miles of your home, etc.) for your state's local DNC list.

In other words, the way I see it, the Do Not Call list is a Call List for the exceptions. I don't want ANY of them- politicians or nonprofits included- calling me. I'd just prefer to stay unlisted and not have my # show up anywhere. This works pretty well except for the random-number generated robocalls who coudn't give a shit what your # is.

Also, if it gets REALLY annoying, one might consider using a call router [asterisk.org] to intelligently route unknown callers through a phone tree or directly to voice mail.

W

Wow, it only took 30,000 complaints... (5, Interesting)

jenkin sear (28765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975701)

Holy crap, the FTC did NOTHING until more than 30,000 complaints were received. You'd think the threshold would be a hell of a lot lower. Your tax money at work- thanks assholes.

Re:Wow, it only took 30,000 complaints... (-1, Offtopic)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975745)

You think that's bad. Wait until the US government starts running health care.

Re:Wow, it only took 30,000 complaints... (1, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976047)

Won't happen. Rather, we'll continue to have healthcare run by insurance companies, the only difference being that government will force everyone who pay taxes to cover the cost of covering everyone else. The result, massive government enforced subsidization of private enterprise, with trillions funneled into the pockets of politicians and insurance middlemen.

Re:Wow, it only took 30,000 complaints... (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976099)

Until 30,000 people will get sick? That would be what, few hours? I can live with that.

Re:Wow, it only took 30,000 complaints... (1)

Workaphobia (931620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975781)

Agreed. What the FUCK took them so long?

Re:Wow, it only took 30,000 complaints... (1)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975999)

And on top of that, they didn't do anything until a sitting Senator starting getting these calls. Evidently it's OK if the great unwashed get the ever living crap annoyed out of them, but how *dare* they call the elite with that crap.

cost THEM money, here's how (5, Insightful)

notthepainter (759494) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975707)

I always take the call. Listen politely and tell them that yes, I do want to extend my car's warranty. They ask for my VIN and I say I have to go outside to get it.

Then I put the call on hold and get back to work. They actually often call back and I take the call, telling them that I'm still looking for my registration.

Then I put the call on hold and get back to work.

You don't want to be abusive to the person making the call. I have a friend who had no other job options and worked for firms like that. Often these people are either just trying to make ends meet, or just need a mindless job so they can concentrate on college. (My friend later went on to get his PhD.)

By doing this they person making the call can't even get in trouble, you are doing exactly what they are asking you to do, and clearly that can take a 1 minute or two. But this does cost the company money.

Re:cost THEM money, here's how (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975869)

Often these people are either just trying to make ends meet, or just need a mindless job

sorta like a mugger or robber, huh? They're participating in a scam, thus they are scam artists. Also I find it highly dubious that "your friend" couldn't find ANY other work. More like he didn't like the other work he's qualified for (ie Mikey D's, cleaning toilets, etc etc).

Re:cost THEM money, here's how (1)

notthepainter (759494) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975967)

or maybe he fell into a hole filled with drugs in college. I was trying to be kind. He climbed out, not everyone is so lucky.

Re:cost THEM money, here's how (1)

notthepainter (759494) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975989)

I just noticed your scare quotes around "friend." Yes, he was. It wasn't me. I waited tables in college for the first 2 summers then wrote code the third.

Writing code paid better and was more fun. I almost didn't graduate because of that. I just wanted to drop out and get a job! Oh man, I cringe when I think about that now.

Re:cost THEM money, here's how (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975893)

I have absolutely no sympathy for the people who are on the other end of the line. They sold their soul to the devil. They just as well make their money selling crack cocaine.

Re:cost THEM money, here's how (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975909)

Exactly! Wasting the company's time is the only way to get them to stop.

I once got fed up with receiving these calls and decided to keep them on the line for as long as possible the next time they called. By the time I was done I had kept them on the line for almost half an hour and had asked them if their warranty would cover (each escalation question on my behalf separated by "|") damage to my engine | as a result of an accident | in which I was drinking and driving | that I thought was the fault of the other driver for driving a small car | that was an import | since I was driving a huge truck | and would need a lawyer | since I had argued with the cop | to the point that I shoved him | and shot him | with his own gun | and left the scene of the accident | and the shooting.

I was pretty surprised they didn't hang up when I asked if their warranty would cover a lawyer for shooting a cop, but the guy did finally put me on hold to get a supervisor to answer my questions and that's when I hung up.

My co-workers were cracking up and I've never gotten a warranty call again.

Re:cost THEM money, here's how (1)

Doitroygsbre (712871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976011)

I worked for a company that does billing calls and shut off service for MCI many years ago. I sympathize with people with phone jobs, I really do but more often than not the guy screaming about what my mother does for a living on the other end of the phone is a hell of a lot nicer than the boss. You learn to tune it out after a while, so go ahead and scream. Your solution is actually worse for the poor sap on the other end. Most phone based companies have a set "talk time" with different penalties for going over it. Even if you accomplish the goal (sell a timeshare, get a bill payment, whatever) you can be penalized for going over talk time. I had to sit through a power point presentation every time I went over my talk time. Good god, please, scream at me and hang up. Don't make me sit through that damned presentation again.

Re:cost THEM money, here's how (1)

notthepainter (759494) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976081)

Interesting.

I had made the assumption that the company would not treat their employees unfairly, that an "over time" call that was arguably a legitimate call would be ok.

Of course that is extremely naive of me.

Re:cost THEM money, here's how (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27976039)

Fuck your friend.

He was making money by being an unethical piece of shit. I don't care what he was planning to do with it, he voluntarily took a job as an unethical piece of shit.

Fuck him. And fuck you for pretending that I should respect him just because he thought that aiding and abetting a scam was an acceptable way to raise capital.

I hope both of you are hit by a bus, and live.

Re:cost THEM money, here's how (1)

notthepainter (759494) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976057)

Even though you are an anonymous coward, I would never wish that on you, or think such horrid thoughts. Have you considered anger management or something similar?

Re:cost THEM money, here's how (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976125)

That is very similar to what I do when I get one of those automated calls. You know, "We are selling xxx, if you are interested leave your name and a number we can reach you at at the tone." I always used to get these calls at work. I would give an easily remembered name and my work number. Then when they called back, "Oh, I'm sorry, he just stepped out. He should be back in 15 minutes." I got one of them to call back 3 times.

Vigilantism (4, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975717)

Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal,[...] warns that consumers should "avoid breaking the law simply for revenge."

When people feel that injustice has been done, then justice must either be provided or else the will make their own.

Saying that vigilantism is always wrong or "against the law" is no use if no other alternative is provided to those with legitimate grievance. Unfortunately our legal systems have evolved, and continue to evolve, into artifices that deny their services to the ordinary person. The courts are a closed club, open only to those with inordinate amounts of money and influence.

Faced with this growing reality, it shouldn't be surprising when people take matters into their own hands. The sad fact is that these web vigilantes didn't another more acceptable legal route because they knew full well how futile it would be. Little people often have to make their own justice nowadays.

"The Internet is evolving, and is allowing for groups of people to do their own justice socially," says Mr. Silveira.

And now they have the means to do it.

Robocall Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975733)

My family (in Canada) gets somedays gets half a dozen robocalls a day. Sometimes we just don't answer the phone.

Greetings, friends. (5, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975755)

Do you wish to look as happy as me? Well, you've got the power inside you right now. So, use it, and send one dollar to Happy Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield.

Don't delay, eternal happiness is just a dollar away.

same thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975769)

There's another about "lowering the interest rates on your account." Same scam, no info provided, etc. I really hate this BS. If you say hello twice, and nobody talks immediately, just hang up.

I love the car warranty calls (3, Interesting)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975775)

Those calls are so much fun! When they call, I tell them that I want to renew the extended warranty on my 1974 Dodge Dart. And I don't take no for an answer. Everytime they say something about why they can't do that I reply as if they said yes. I keep asking them what the renewal fee is, and then "ok, so let's go ahead and renew the warranty on the '74 Dodge," etc. etc. Sometimes the calls go on for five or six minutes. It's exhilarating to actually get a telespammer to hang up on you!

bout fuckin time! (1)

chucklebutte (921447) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975787)

these pricks would call me non stop i dont even own a car ive called the BBB and put myself on the no call list just for them and yet they still would call and harrass me fuck them!

The old ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975813)

Stoning people to death is barbaric. Stoning them only half to death on the other hand...

I tried to buy a warranty from these guys (4, Funny)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975847)

for a 1963 Opel Kadett.

I told them I was planning a trip across Botswana, and I wanted to make sure the vehicle was covered.

Those bastards hung up on me.

This is why... (2, Insightful)

Sir Holo (531007) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975851)

This is why I just cancelled my land line.

Verizon has made money for years played the middle man in the arms race against invasive calls. They sell my name/number, then try to sell me *69, then sell them blocking, then try to sell me....

Nuts to them.

Re:This is why... (5, Informative)

BriggsBU (1138021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975889)

Problem is that these guys are calling cell phone and such as well.

Re:This is why... (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975901)

They do it on my cell phone, too, both personal and business. The phone company makes money either way for these business calls: if they didn't make money, they'd be much more aggressive about interfering with these services. Unfortunately, it's like the US Post Office and Land's End catalogs: they're happy to waste your time to collect a slightly profitable, bulk business fee from a reliable customer.

Oh, I'm glad someone complained (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975883)

I got called on my *office* phone number over this.

My conversation with them went something like this:

Me: Who are you? (In the very gruff Steve voice)
Them: Auto Warranty company.
Me: Why are you calling me? (In a gruffer tone)
Them: Because your car warranty is about to expire.
Me: That's nice, but I don't own a car.
Them: Um, er, does anyone else in your household own a car?
Me: No and we don't live in the United States.
Them: Um, er, we'll put you on our "Don't Call" list. (hangup)

Of course the source number was caller-id blocked.

A coworker of mine got a half-dozen of those calls.

could be worse... (2, Funny)

nimbius (983462) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975915)

i misread this as a "robocop" scheme, anticipating warranties to come with the ultimatum "you have 20 seconds to comply."

How about this? (4, Insightful)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975987)

I'm in favor of the death penalty for making even ONE telemarketing call. Kill a few of them and maybe the others will get the message.

Yes, this is a serious proposal. Anybody else with me?

Canadians and Our Do Not Call List (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975995)

As some of you may know, Canadians have our own Do Not Call List. However, these guys are using that very list to MAKE the calls. I've gotten repeated calls AFTER signing up on this list. What's a better source of verified phone number than a recently updated list of people who posted the number for the exact opposite reasons?

i blame the phone companies (1)

webdragon (788788) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976031)

I've received dozens of calls from the scumbag, both on my phone at work and on my cell. I really wish a phone company would offer the option to automatically reject unknown and blocked ID calls. personally i think the phone companies are in on it, i believe if they wanted to they could easily disable number spoofing.
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