My phone regularly rings at dinner time.
If not answered within five rings, it stops. If I am working at the computer or standing nearby and pick it up, there is a delay and usually my name is mentioned and the spiel begins.
Just another annoying illegal robocall.
Telemarketers that don’t have written permission to make such calls can face penalties up to $16,000 per call, according to the Better Business Bureau.
So much for the “No Call” rule that is supposed to be a mote, protecting my castle from intruders. Unwanted calls are more than a nuisance, they are an invasion of privacy.
More than half the calls are recorded messages. Non-commercial calls, including political messages are exempt. Politicians, who enacted the rules, can annoy more people without knocking on the door.
Isn’t that great news?
Others are “boiler room” calls, selling something or asking for a charitable donation. The “boiler room” often siphons off the greatest share.
Instead of knocking on the door, home repair scams are now using the phone to entice vulnerable homeowners.
Tom Faucher said the robocalls “are very annoying. It is strange they always come at 6 p.m. or when you want nothing but quiet.”
Faucher must have been amused with a call about repairs as he is one of the most capable persons using hammers and other tools to build and fix things.
Deception is a recent tool to thwart caller ID, using a local area code similar to the consumer’s to trick them into answering the phone. The caller is promoting lower credit card interest rates and asks for a current credit card number or other information.
The Better Business Bureau serving Wisconsin said it has received numerous calls recently about such calls.
Telemarkets who fraudulently advertised emergency medical alert devices were a pain for Wisconsin consumers in 2013.
“We received a high volume of complaints involving robocalls that fraudulently pitched medical alert devices and different types of assistance programs for senior citizens,” said Sandy Chalmers, division administrator for the state (DATCP) Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “Many of the calls offered well-crafted, attractive pitches – particularly for seniors with medical needs.”
Scammers typically told consumers that a friend or family member had signed them up for a prepaid or free device.
The percent of complaints for 2011 through 2013 for telemarketing were 16.3, 19.7 and 19.2, respectively, 10 percent higher than the next highest complaint.
Nearly all the top 10 Wisconsin consumer complaints for 2013 were repeats from the previous two years: identity theft, home improvement, gas pump accuracy, motor vehicle sales and repair, and contests, sweepstakes and promotions.
Wisconsin is changing its no call procedures effective Aug. 1. Registration will become permanent and residents will no longer have to sign up every two years.
Wisconsin will also use the federal Do Not Call list beginning Aug. 1. Numbers on the state’s list will automatically be transferred to the federal list.
To verify the transfer or to register a phone call 888-382-1222. You must call from the phone you want to verify. Residential cell phones and landlines are eligible.
Telemarkets must comply within 31 days of registering.
Consumers can file complaints with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection online, by phone at 1-800-422-7128 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.