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The automated telephone message said the car’s warranty was expiring and this was the last notice.
It said to press 1 to talk with a representative. The guy on the other end gave only a first name, but Caller ID showed his number as (416) 523-1121.
He asked a lot of questions, wanting the make, model, year of the car and other details.
He’ll call again, tomorrow or the day after, even if told to stop.
The Federal Trade Commission and other groups are trying to find and stop these folks, but the agency doesn’t appear to be succeeding.
“The Do Not Call Registry is not foolproof,” said Mitch Katz, public affairs specialist at the commission. “I wish it was, but there will always be people who violate and find ways to get around the registry.”
Callercomplaints.com and other Web sites have collected hundreds of thousands of complaints about the calls while building free databases to help the public identify such numbers.
In the past week, calls from the (416) 523-1121 number and other phone numbers with area codes 208 and 419 have spiked, according to Callercomplaints.com.
There’s no easy way to instantly stop all these calls, operators of the Web site said.
While the FTC can police legitimate businesses, it has a hard time stopping scams called from unknown locations.
“I can’t even say we have an investigation going,” Katz said. “I can tell you we are aware of it.”
In some cases, phone numbers have been programmed so that the digits on caller display are different from the originating number, according to watchdog groups.
Others contend that federal agencies such as the FTC simply don’t have the resources to go after every violator bombarding the system.
It has taken 43 enforcement actions against violators of the National Do Not Call Registry, including a $5.3 million penalty against DirecTV for violating provisions of the commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.
Complaints about unwelcome calls can be filed online with the FTC at www.ftc.gov .
Katz suggests the public gather as much information about the callers as possible and be diligent in filing complaints.
“It is very difficult to stop these kind of calls, especially when you ask who they are and they hang up.”
Cpl. Lou Robertson, the officer in charge of criminal investigations at PhoneBusters, said the annoying calls are pitching more than auto warranties.
“They’re going to try to pitch cruises, prizes, sweepstakes, loans,” he said.
PhoneBusters is the Canadian Anti-fraud Call Centre. Based on complaints it received, U.S. victims have lost more than $27.3 million there last year in mass marketing fraud and perhaps into the billions at home in the U.S.
“Somebody, somewhere is making a pile of money,” Robertson said.
People duped into the scams often figure they are wiring money to Canada, but those funds can be picked up anywhere, Robertson said. His agency helps the U.S. prosecute and extradite scammers in Canada.
“It’s your common sense,” Robertson said. “Don’t believe anybody.”
The calls seem to be random, offering warranties to people who don’t own cars and lower mortgages to people who don’t own homes.
They even called Katz at the FTC.