- This is Visa Mastercard member services. Congratulations, you now qualify for a lower interest rate on all your credit card accounts. Press the number 2 to speak to a customer service agent, or press 3 to decline this offer.
- "Hi, this is Tiffany with Account Services, calling in reference..."
- "We have closed the file on your annual credit card review, and you should have received mail..."
- "This is an important message from cardmember services..."
- "Hi, this is Anne with Account Services with some good news!"
Hello. This is Heather at account services. And we're calling in reference to your current credit card account. There's no problems currently with your account. It is urgent however that you contact us concerning your eligibility for lowering your interest rate. Your eligibility expires shortly. So please consider this your final notice. Please press one now on your phone to speak with a live operator and lower your interest rate. Or press two to discontinue further notices. Thank you and have a great day.I've been roused from sleep by these unsolicited, automated phone calls, all having to do with card member services, or account services, relating to your credit card debt, lowering your interest rates across all lines of credit, repairing your credit, financial services counseling, or debt negotiation. Fraudsters, con men, whatever you want to call them, ultimately, they're looking to get your money. These robocalls piss me off, and if you want to do something more than just hang up, you can get even. I've pressed '1' to get connected to a live agent. The people who get paid by the telephone marketing scammers have learned to be wary of giving out too much information, especially to an angry caller, because they know if too many people complain, the money will stop coming in. However, if you have a little time, you can employ the following strategy to make yourself some money fighting crime, and help bring down these organizations who try to scam people. The next time you get one of these calls, here's what you should do:
- Pretend that you are interested. The first two things the representative may ask you are your name and how much credit card debt you have. You can use a variant of your name, or create a new name for yourself (in order to not arouse suspicion, try to make your new name similar to your real name, so that it's easier to remember, such as starting with the same sound or letter. If your name is Mike, then Mark or Malcolm. If John, Jerry or Jesus). Tell the representative you have credit card debt of $16,000 (which is about the national average), so that he or she will get excited about possibly doing a balance transfer with you over the phone, or getting your credit card number so he or she can bill your credit card for "services".
- Do not give out any of your personal information, such as your credit card number. Inform the representative that you have some discomfort doing business over the phone, and you would like to do some research before you go forward. Tell the telemarketer, "I have a fear of scams, and would like to make sure this is a legitimate business", and "I would like to take advantage of that 4 to 8% rate, but before I do, can you tell me what is your company's name and physical location?" To lull the scammer into thinking you are sincere, I might go so far as to give out my ZIP code and the toll-free number of my credit card company (Craig in the comments below prudently advises retaining your expired credit card for just this occasion, or perhaps switching around the last four digits of an old credit card), but when you are prompted for your credit card number, stall them until they give you some kind of traceable information, such as an official company name, their callback phone number, and of course their physical location.
- Ask for, and record, the company's name, the name of the person you are talking to, get a call-back number and an address, and note the time and the date of the call.
- Report the call and any of the information you have to the authorities.
These are three URLs I've used to lodge complaints about the calls:
Depending on your state, you can possibly make yourself some extra cash by suing the telemarketing company in small claims court if you are on the "do not call" registry:According to the California Attorney General:
In order to file a complaint, you must know either the name or the phone number of the company that called you. Our office cannot trace the phone call you received and obtain this information on your behalf. You also must provide the date that the company called you and your registered phone number. You may provide your name and address, but it's not required for you to submit a complaint.According to the FCC:
Some states permit you to file law suits in state court against persons or entities violating the do-not-call rules. You may be awarded $500 in damages or actual monetary loss, whichever is greater. The amount may be tripled if you are able to show that the caller violated the rules willfully and knowingly. Filing a complaint with the FCC does not prevent you from also bringing a suit in state court.Happy hunting!
States also can bring a civil law suit against any person or entity that engages in a pattern or practice of violating the TCPA or FCC rules. You can contact your state Attorney General’s office or consumer protection agency with particular complaints, or to encourage such suits.