Do Not Call

The United States government enacted legislation that controls how telemarketers may behave and citizen’s legal options.

In 2003 The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) established a national Do-Not-Call list. Once a personal number is registered with the DNC list, telemarketers have up to 31 days to remove the number from their call lists and stop calling.

If a telemarketer is ignoring your Do-Not-Call request or has performed some other violation of FTC law, a complaint can be filed at donotcall.gov. You will need as much information about the caller, including company name and telephone number being used.

Technologies exist that allow telemarketers to spoof and hide their phone number.

Avoid scams. If your number is registered with the US Do-Not-Call list, legitimate companies are not going to call unless you have a relationship with them.

Common Scams

Most companies that are not obeying Do Not Call laws are not only operating illegally, but trying to scam people. Telling them to Do Not Call does not help and typically they will call several times. Check with your telephone service provider to see if they can be blocked. Although these callers spoof their phone number, they are usually consistent when it is the same caller.

I tend to keep these persons on the phone as long as possible, figuring that if they aren’t making a call to someone that will fall for their scam then the company isn’t making money either.

Computer Help

No technology company is going to call you to help with a computer issue unless you called them first and you have legitimate business with them.

Capture of Windows 7 Event Viewer
Windows 7 Event Viewer

The caller will identify themselves as “Technical Support” and will sometimes use the name of a big company like Microsoft. The caller say that “Your computer is sending errors to the internet” or something similar. They won’t tell what the errors are just that the computer is doing it.

Skeptical recipients of this call will be advised to run eventvwr (or Event Viewer). This is the Windows event viewing tool for seeing system, security and application event logs. The caller will say to look for a red circle or yellow triangle … these are the error that they are calling to help fix.

For this scam, they are usually trying to gain control of the victim’s computer. If the caller can convince the victim to allow them remote control of their computer or install a software to “fix” the problem, then they will succeed in getting malicious software (malware) onto the computer.

The malware that this scammer is trying to get onto the victim’s computer may be spyware that tracks the victim’s internet usage, adware that displays advertisements on the computer or worse.

I have cleaned up the aftermath of one of these scams that installed a malicious “anti-virus” tool that disabled Windows Updates and other protective services.

I have talked to my peers that have seen these cases where the malware harvested the password data from Internet Explorer and recorded keystrokes with website usage. The scammer gets access to bank account information and more.

Lower Interest Rates

Typically this caller has identified themselves as “Card services” and will tell the prospective victim that they qualify for lower interest on their Visa and MasterCard credit cards. They will next ask for a credit card number to verify with whom they are speaking. That’s the first clue that it isn’t legitimate.

In an attempt to convince the victim, the caller will identify the bank and card type of the credit card number being supplied. Be aware that all major credit cards follow a standardized format for the most part and the information is accessible on the internet. The first number will specify if it’s American Express (3), Discover (6), Visa (4) or MasterCard (5), for example. The next few numbers will determine the issuer (brand of the bank/financier) and card program.

The caller will explain all the benefits of a lower interest rate and how it there is no cost to the victim; they just need the full credit card information including expiration date, security code and sometimes they’ll ask for the phone number on the back of the card.

If they succeeded in getting this information, then they will transfer the call to a verifier that will check the information with the victim and then give more information on the program, such as there will be a charge to the credit card – I’ve heard up to $750. When questioned about there being no cost, then it’ll be explained that the charge is covered by the money saved with the lower interest rate.

At this stage, they have information on at least one of the victim’s credit cards. The scammer can start doing their financial damage.

Extended Car Warranty

Using publicly accessible vehicle sale records, these scammers will call pretending to offer an extended warranty on a vehicle you have previously purchased. They’ll usually try scaring the potential victim by telling them how much a full engine or transmission replacement costs and then try to sell their warranty to convince people that they would save money.

I don’t know if these companies are looking to just acquire your money through their typically poor warranty services or if they are attempting to harvest credit card information for those unfortunate enough to fall for the scam. Either way, they are undesirable and frequently a scam.

Donations

Legitimate non-profit organizations do not have to follow the “Do Not Call” registration laws, although they are still required to obey the telemarketing laws in regards to permitted hours (8:00 AM to 9:00 PM, local time) and number of automated dialer attempts allowed in one day.

Hence this scammer takes advantage of those allowances and moves on to call potential victims in hopes of getting credit card information and free money under the disguise of a made-up or even legitimate organization.

SEO and Web-domain Services

This is a common scam for anyone owning a website. These predators monitor registrars public records and prey on the domain/site owner. Their scam may be for SEO services or domain and site protection services. Under most circumstances, these scammers charge a large amount of money for poor service with no guarantee. Sometimes their goal is to trick domain owners in transferring the site/domain to them – and then it is held hostage.

Protect Yourself

A few simple steps can help protect yourself from falling victim to these scams.

  1. Tell the caller to add you to their “Do Not Call” list.
  2. Microsoft or some other technology company is not going to call about errors on your computer, unless you called them first. Don’t believe them; hang up.
  3. If a telemarketer persistently calls from the same number, have your phone company block the number.
  4. Don’t give any personal or credit card information to these callers.
  5. If an automated system calls, simply hang up – do not push any buttons that may confirm that a human answered the call.
  6. Ask the caller for their company name and a call-back number. By law they are required to give this information.
  7. File a complaint with the FTC.
  8. Enlist in a service, like Nomorobo to stop automated system calls.

For more information, visit the United States Do Not Call web-site.

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