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Robo-calling Rachel, leave me alone

Posted by Mitch Lipka  October 3, 2011 11:05 AM

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Q: I am writing to ask you about these “Cardholder Services” robo-calls that call to lower your credit card rates. I am on the National Do Not Call registry and I receive these phone calls from various phone numbers several times a week. One says that if you do not wish to receive calls, press 2, and I still receive calls. The other company when I get the extension “to lower my rates” they hang up on me when I ask to be removed from their calling list. At this point I feel like I am being harassed. Any suggestions on how I can get this to stop?

Stephanie Catalini
Melrose

A. A lot of those calls come from a recorded woman’s voice identifying herself as “Rachel.” In fact, she just called my home and my cell. These calls have been an annoyance for years and appeared to have gone on hiatus last year after the Federal Trade Commission shut down a massive calling operation that included millions of interest rate reduction calls -- also from “Rachel.”

“No way of knowing, at this point, if it’s the same Rachel,” said Frank Dorman, a spokesman for the FTC. “Regardless, people who get illegal robocalls should file a complaint with the FTC.”

He explained that any business that uses these automated systems with recorded information require your permission to call you. And, Dorman added, they’re required to provide an opt-out key that not only works, but also immediately disconnects the call.

The FTC said that some prerecorded messages are OK, as long as they are informational only. Examples Dorman cited: “Calls to let you know your flight’s been cancelled, reminders about an appointment, or messages about a delayed school opening.” Others that can use them include a business collecting a debt, charities (calling on their own behalf), phone companies, banks, politicians, and certain healthcare providers (such as the pharmacy reminding you of a prescription).

The reason for reporting the calls is to give the FTC a chance to catch the culprits, as they did with the last round of Rachel calls. It can take a while, though, and requires a certain volume of consumer complaints to get the ball rolling.

To file a complaint, go to the FTC's Do Not Call site or call 1-888-382-1222

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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