SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

November 6, 2012

FTC after Robocallers

FTC moves to shut 5 robocaller companies

By Sheryl Harris THE PLAIN DEALER

The Federal Trade Commission continued its war on robocallers by shutting down five companies that pelted consumers with calls offering credit-card interest-rate reductions.

The FTC announced yesterday that it had obtained court orders to temporarily freeze the assets of five companies it accused of illegally calling consumers.

Although consumers might be thrilled to know that something’s being done about the pesky calls to cell and land-line phones, FTC officials warned that so many companies are making calls that it’s unlikely we have heard the last from them. (Rachel just called me this morning, Jan)

In its latest bout with robocallers, the FTC sued Treasure Your Success of Winter Park, Fla.; Ambrosia Web Design of Tempe, Ariz.; A+ Financial Center of Port St. Lucie, Fla.; the Green Savers of Casselberry, Fla.; and Key One Solutions, which uses multiple addresses in Arizona. Attorneys in the FTC’s Cleveland office filed the suit against Treasure Your Success in federal court in Florida.

The assets of the companies’ owners also were frozen.

One elderly victim of Green Savers who spoke at the FTC’s news conference said that when she received a robocall promising her reduced credit-card interest rates, she pressed keys to speak to a live operator. “He was my best friend for a while,” she said, explaining that she revealed account numbers and personal information, thinking he could help her.

“As soon as I was done, I sat down and cried,” she said. “I knew I was taken for a ride.” She later found two unauthorized charges totaling more than $1,000 on her credit-card bill.

Charles Harwood, deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, estimated that the five companies might have collectively made $30 million from consumers. Although operators promised full refunds if consumers weren’t satisfied, the companies rarely provided them, he said.

The agency said it gets 200,000 complaints a month about robocalls.   Many of those complaints involve recorded calls from “Rachel,” whom FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has called “Public Enemy No. 1.” The recorded sales calls are violations of the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

The suits announced yesterday bring to 17 the number of robocall cases the FTC has filed. sherylharris@plaind.com

(Rachel has been after me for years – seriously!   There has been nothing I could do to stop them.  I have tried, agreeing to try for the lower rate by pressing some number just so I could talk to someone who might be willing to hear me that I do not want their service and wish to be removed from their list.   This would invariably end with them hanging up on me.  .   very rude, and frustrating.    The same goes for those damnable “time-shares” I don’t own – – no one will listen.  I don’t a  cabin or condo anywhere, my God!. . .not to mention the two tickets to Disneyland I just won.  .  .  sadly, this ends with my hanging up on them.   There are robocallers wanting me to accept free diabetes paraphernalia to cope with a disease I have told them over and over – I don’t have.  Maybe it is time to give up the phone and go back to smoke signals.  Nobody listens anyway.   But hey, FTC – go for it, that’s great news.    Jan)

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