24 February 2011

Why can't they do something about the "Cardholder Services" scam?

Still again today, I got a phone call from someone at "Cardholder Services," the company that wants to help me lower my interest rate on my credit card. I don't know exactly what "Cardholder Services" is offering, but there's no doubt it's a scam.

And again today, I filed a complaint with the National Do Not Call Registry, a program of the Federal Trade Commission.

Under federal law, the call was illegal, both for violating the do-not-call law and for using deception in the form of a spoofed caller ID number (this time the number was that of a condo maintenance office in Orlando). So was the call I received a month or so ago, and a month or so before that and a month or so before that. And so, likely, were the ones I have received at work, and the ones my co-workers have received. And so were the calls made to hundreds of people who have reported their misfortune to sites such as 800notes.com.

There have been times I've tried to find out who was making these rogue calls, but it isn't easy. What they want before they'll say much of anything is your credit-card number. If you start asking questions at all, they hang up. I did find out once (or at least I was told once) that the person I talked to was in Florida. I'm pretty sure, in any case, that they're based in the United States, since the operators speak with a standard Midwest U.S. accent.

Right now, though, my complaint isn't with the scammer, but with the federal authorities. Why can't they do something about this? Practically everyone in my office has been bothered by these people (a robocaller typically goes through the office numbers one by one), and I know others who have received calls at home. I had no trouble finding a dozen blog posts and newspaper articles from people who also had received calls. This isn't a small-scale, fly-by-night operation, and it has been going on for at least two years.

Pity the poor people who fall for the pitch, whatever it is (probably something that requires a hefty upfront fee for dubious services). Where is the FTC when we need it?