Have you ever received those annoying calls from, "Michelle," "Rachel," "Heather," or some other name from "Cardholder Services"? Lately, they have been adding calls from "Health Services" as well. I suppose, it's because it's the season, where most people have to sign up for next year's health insurance coverage. People are more likely to fall into the trap. If you received calls like that, you know what I'm talking about. If not, you have been lucky. But if you ever do receive a call like that, hang up immediately! Don't push any buttons, and most definitely don't give out any information! My experience will let you know, why.
Our phone number is on the national "Do-not-Call" list. Therefore, we should be protected from telemarketers. Per the rules, we should only have to deal with the calls from political or charity organizations. And of course from those companies we do business with and agreed to them calling our number. Any other telemarketer has to pay hefty fines, if they dial our number. Furthermore, since the "Do-not-Call" list has only been around for less than five years, we also could not yet have forgotten to re-register our number, a current requirement of the national "Do-not-Call" list. (http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/388138/donotcall_list_requires_reregistration.html)
Therefore, if we are under the protection of the "Do-not-Call" list, we should not have to deal with these annoying "Cardholder Services" calls, right? We should be able to give this company a warning that our number is on the list, and they should immediately stop calling our house. Well, think again, because therein was my big mistake.
When they first called, I thought it was my credit card company. However, since their introduction also included that I qualify for a lower interest rate, I knew something was fishy. Additionally, the message was automated, which made it even more suspicious. I wanted to let them know, they called a "Do-not-Call" number and we do not appreciate telemarketer calls at all. I pushed as instructed by the message the correct button on my phone to talk to a representative. As soon as I asked, what company this is, they hung up. I knew something was definitely not on the up and up.
I should have left it at that. It appeared, the auto-dialer found a valid number, but only dialed our house on a weekly basis. Something we could deal with right? Silly me, I tried two more times to get the name of the company. Each time they immediately hung up on me. Yet, the calls became more frequent. We now were on a two-day interval with their auto-dialer. Even simply hanging up as soon as the message started, did not help. Neither did call screening.
Thus I tried again to put an end to the calls. When they called our house again, I pushed the button and was connected to a female representative. I casually informed her that the call would be traced and she was being recorded. She laughed and said she always wanted to be a recording artist. Then she began to sing, quite off-key. After two minutes of that (yes, I appear to be a glutton for punishment), I screamed at the top of my lungs into the phone and hung up. My only hope is that she was temporarily deaf.
Now the calls came daily, sometimes twice daily. I had enough. From the FCC website, I could only find out that I need the business name and phone number to file a complaint in regard to a "Do-not-Call" violation. I don't have caller ID, they never give out a name or number. I ended up calling the FCC. The lady I spoke to was very understanding. It appeared she had heard that complaint before. She, too, informed me, I need a business name and number, or they could do nothing for me. I filed a complaint via their online form anyway, not that it helped in any way.
I began to do some research online. Of course, we were not the only family terrorized by those calls. Many others had the same problem. But nobody came up with a remedy. There are some interesting stories out there. I recommend doing a search on the topic.
People with caller ID handed the number on their ID to the FCC, but rarely was something done about it. It appears that a phony number is used as a from' number when dialing into your home. Once you push the button to get connected to a representative, you get re-routed. For the average person it is impossible to track that down. Some people were successful and claimed the calls were connected to some sub-division of American Debt Relief, or the like. However, as soon as the FCC shuts down one site, another pops up elsewhere. Others reported similar experiences as mine. They were laughed at and sometimes even told, "Don't you know you are not supposed to push the button. Now we will call you more often!"
Either way, I don't care if it is some debt consolidation scheme or a scam to get my information to steal my identity. Shouldn't it stop, when they notice the person on the other end does not fall for it? Why on earth would they call more often? I suppose, it's some sick mind's idea of getting revenge on the person who does not fall for the scam or sell they want to make.
So how did I get those daily calls to stop? The lady from the FCC suggested contacting the local police, if I suspected a scam. A good idea, but if I'm not sure it's a scam, how can I get the police to react? I could also have paid for my local phone company to set up a trace to get it to stop. That's a little too expensive and time-consuming for something the FCC should put a stop to in the first place. I'm still wondering, why I should to the FCC's work for them.
Simply hanging up did not reduce the call volume either. Then one day my children came home from a party. One of the party favors they had received was a whistle. And that gave me an idea. Every time I got one of those pesky calls, I went through the process to be connected to a representative. Once I had them on the line, I blew the whistle as loud as I could. For a while there I was even considering getting a foghorn to achieve a bigger effect. Foreseeing they might be forewarned after a while, I sometimes began to give out fake info to have their full attention, before I used the whistle. It seems they either had a lot of temporarily deaf representatives, who were unable to take calls, because their ears were probably ringing, or they finally got the hint. The call volume to my house is significantly reduced to maybe twice a month. I can live with that. But on a particularly bad day, I might still use the whistle just to let off some steam. YES!