Inside The Seamy World of Robocalling Schemes

CNBC reports on the latest revelations from America’s Federal Trade Commission about the tactics used by the robocall industry:

In some cases, robocalls proliferate through programs that resemble multilevel marketing schemes, where business founders push robocall packages on “members” to spur quick growth. In one case, an organization known alternately as “8 Figure Dream Lifestyle,” “Millionaire Mind” and “Online Entrepreneur Academy” enticed consumers to buy memberships to gain access to a “franchise-like opportunity” to sell the organization’s “proven business model” or “blueprint for success” downstream. Members paid between $2,395 and $22,495 to join, and the business claimed they could earn $5,000 to $10,000 in the first two weeks, followed by similarly large sums…

The FTC also looked at an organization called Life Management Services, which allegedly netted $15.6 million from consumers who thought they were reorganizing their credit card debt through an interest rate reduction service… Another complaint, against a corporation called First Choice Horizon, outlines how the robocaller “under the guise of confirming consumers’ identities” for an offer of “bogus credit card interest rate reduction services,” further “tricked them into providing their personal financial information, including their social security and credit card numbers,” according to the FTC… Another organization, called Media Mix 365, which generated “leads” for home solar energy companies, called a single number 1,000 times in a year and placed millions of nuisance calls to others, the FTC says… A company called Lifewatch was a prolific spoofer, the FTC said, sending calls to consumers’ phones that looked like they may have been coming from familiar numbers or numbers within the same area code. The group sold a “free” medical alert system and fraudulently claimed the system was endorsed by the American Heart Association or AARP. On the calls, people were told that they wouldn’t be charged for the product unless it was “activated,” but their credit cards were charged immediately, the FTC said…

For consumers wondering what they can do about the calls, the first rule is always, “hang up, do not engage. If you see an unknown caller ID, don’t answer.” Consumers can report robocalls or violations of the Do Not Call registry to the FTC on its website.

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