Many Kansans are reporting receiving multiple telephone calls which appear to be from companies offering to assist in reducing their credit card debt or interest rates. The calls are typically generated by an automated calling system which leaves prerecorded messages urging the consumer to take some urgent action in order to take advantage of the offer.
These “robo calls” may instruct consumers to hit a number on their dial pad or call a specific telephone number in order to speak to a live representative. The precorded messages often “spoof” legitimate telephone numbers belonging to actual credit card providers or other businesses.
“Spoofing” is the practice of masquerading or falsifying the telephone number that appears on a recipient’s caller ID display. While Caller ID spoofing has been available for years to businesses with specialized equipment, new advanced technology has become widely available allowing spoofed calls to be made with minimal cost or effort. It is virtually impossible to trace the source of these calls, although the Kansas Attorney General believes the calls are originating from outside of the United States. Pressing any number may signal the automated calling system to transfer the call to a call center in yet another foreign location.
The perpetrators of these calls use ambiguous names to make it appear consumers are being contacted by one of their legitimate credit card companies. Common names have included “Cardholder Services”, “Account or Member Services”, “Credit Card Services” or other similar vague but official sounding names. These callers may be “phishing” in an attempt to trick consumers into revealing personal account information or attempting to sell questionable products.
The callers ignore the Do-Not-Call registry and no-call requests made by consumers over the phone. Stopping these bad actors can be difficult as the true identities of the callers are often buried under layers of corporations who lease and then re-lease the telephone numbers to others, often outside our jurisdiction.
Should you receive these types of telephone calls, our office recommends you immediately hang up and do not interact with the callers. Answering these calls may actually increase the number of calls you receive by verifying that your home telephone number is active and a live person is available for contact. Many consumers have wisely opted to obtain Caller ID and do not answer the telephone if they do not recognize the incoming call. A legitimate business will always leave a message which the consumer can later return.
Our office is working to assist the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in efforts to curtail these types of calls but believe education is our best weapon in these types of situations. You can assist our office by relaying the above information to your relatives, friends and neighbors.