Is there a "press 3 to kick you in the head"?
May 3, 2009 6:15 AM   Subscribe

I am on the "Do Not Call" list -- but I still am getting calls from a telemarketer about a car warranty that I do not have. When I ask for the company name or ask to be taken off their call list, they hang up. When I dial *69 to get the number and call back, I find that they've tricked the system to use a fake number. How do I stop them?

It always starts with a recorded voice saying that they have tried contacting me about my car warranty previously and that this is my last chance, and saying to press 1 to be connected to an agent, or press 2 to disconnect. I've tried getting through to an agent to find out who the hell they are and why they think I have a car, but when I start asking questions to find out who they are they just hang up. I've also tried tracing the number on *69, but doing online "reverse lookup" type of searches I find that they've somehow managed to hide their actual number with other fake numbers.

These calls are absolutely relentless - I get about five a week. Help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Grab Bag (47 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Forgot to mention in preview -- I don't even have a CAR. So I have no idea why they're calling me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:16 AM on May 3, 2009


Perhaps this relates to your problem. The companies are being sued by Verizon for spoofing caller ID numbers. They are also ignoring the do not call list. I get calls from them as well. I'm not a fan.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:23 AM on May 3, 2009


This is a scam that has been all over the place lately; pretty much everyone I know has gotten a call. I know it's in the US and I just found this article about it in Canada as well. Don't give them any information. And I don't now how to get you off their list -- they're a scam, so they're not following the DNC list like good telemarketers do.
posted by olinerd at 6:24 AM on May 3, 2009


That sounds like exactly the situation.

So how did Verizon find who they are? I'd like to contact AT&T about doing a similar suit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:24 AM on May 3, 2009


I get these calls as well. Not sure how to remove the number, but I don't bother answering if it is a number I don't recognize. It has changed from 309, 252, 520, and 401 area codes.
posted by brent at 6:27 AM on May 3, 2009


Who they are and what to do.

I found it by googling for "This is the second notice that your vehicle warranty is about to expire", which is a popular phrase on blogs for people to comment on, but the entry I linked to is one of the few that actually provides any content. Good luck!
posted by knile at 6:28 AM on May 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


These people are absolutely the worst in the telemarketing business and have been bugging me for years. I've resorted to creating a contact -- "F*CK HEAD" -- on my phone with a silent ringtone, and assigning new numbers to this contact as they come in.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:29 AM on May 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Contact your local attorney general's office. These guys are violating federal laws regarding the do-not-call list. There's also a form to file a violation on the do not call website, though I'd expect more action from your AGO.
posted by reptile at 6:52 AM on May 3, 2009


Ok, I was getting these calls and somehow got them to stop. Every time they called, I would request a supervisor and tell them I was on the do not call list and that I was going to report them. I also said, very clearly take me off your list.

While it is ridiculous that you have to go through it, if you are aggressive enough, they will remove you, since they have stopped calling me.

I also did go on the Do Not Call site and reported them.
posted by hazyspring at 7:05 AM on May 3, 2009


I actually got them to stop calling me. If you get the call, answer it, then wait to be transferred to an agent. Give them fake information and pretend that you're interested in their warranty. Be really nice and play stupid. Act like you want the warranty, but money is tight, so you need more time to think about it... and ask for their call back number and extension. When they give it to you, say thanks, and hang up.

Now call back and wait to be transferred to another agent. Tell them some bs like "Hey John, I was talking to Kathy before about getting a warranty with you guys, but I just got laid off and can't afford it. Can you put me on your do not call list?" At this point they will either say, yeah, no problem, or they will try to sell you the warranty anyway. Just be nice and say something like "John, I know you're just trying to make a living and I respect that, but I really can't afford the warranty and would appreciate not receiving calls from you guys any longer. Please put me on the do not call list. Thanks."

Trust me, being nice and playing their game will get you off the list. I used to get calls from them twice a day, then I did what I described above and after two tries, I no longer got the calls. Sometimes they will say "Yeah I'll take you off the list." and hang up, but they won't really take you off. You need to be patient and reach someone who can sympathize with you and will actually remove your number.

They also might want to "verify" your name against the number they called. Just be firm and tell them they don't need your name, they have the number and that is what needs to be removed. I'm pretty sure they don't even have names (only numbers), they are just fishing for it.
posted by bengarland at 7:14 AM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


PS: I tried several times just answering and saying "I'm on the do not call list. Please remove my number from your database." They would say "Okay, we will remove it." and the calls would continue anyway. This did not work for me after half a dozen attempts. The above, however, did work after two tries.
posted by bengarland at 7:16 AM on May 3, 2009


Filing an FCC complaint was worthless for me... I did, including very specific information about all the calls I've received from them and their head offices (from one of the above links), and got a letter in the mail about a week later saying that they reviewed my complaint and this company does not appear to be violating any FCC standards.
posted by relucent at 7:16 AM on May 3, 2009


I tell companies that do this to me that this is a cell phone number and I no longer live in X. They stop.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:21 AM on May 3, 2009


I was on their list for a while, too. This was asked once before (here). I was able to get them to stop, so this is a repeat of what I said in that thread about how I did it:

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act protects you from these calls on a cell phone because you must pay for the call (the minutes).

I've been filing FCC complaints each time they call me on my cell phone.

I also finally (it was not easy) located the real source of my pain: One Auto Warranty. I finally got results when I called their office (1-800-753-0870) and told them that:
- Per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, they were breaking the law by using an auto dialer, calling my cell phone, using a recorded message, and refusing to give information about their company and contact information.
- I was filing one complaint with the FCC for each instance that they broke the law.

They said they would handle it immediately, but it would take 2 weeks to get out of their system. I agreed that I would wait 2 weeks before pursuing further action. The calls stopped.
posted by Houstonian at 7:24 AM on May 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


You guys are doing it wrong, you gotta hit the heartstrings. Wait for the agent and then when s/he picks up, ask them who they are trying to contact. "Oh, you're looking for John? I'm sorry, but he died last week. It was a horrible car accident. Yeah. Thank you, bye." *click*

Worked for me!
posted by Mach5 at 7:32 AM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, they've been calling my daughter's cellphone for months at all hours of the day. When I've nailed them and informed them that they're calling a *six* year old (she has a phone due to some ongoing school bus issues) , they tell me that they'll take her off the list (her number is on the do not call list). Still, it makes no difference.

I'll have to try some of the tricks above.
posted by dancinglamb at 7:40 AM on May 3, 2009


I finally started pressing one and screaming irately at the person on the other end. At first I thought it was going to be little more than cathartic for me to say to the rep that I hoped someone shot her in the head and that she died. Mind you, I didn't say I was going to do this, just that I hoped it happened.

I realize that abusing the rank-and-file I'm accomplishing little, but these are the same people who won't transfer me to a supervisor, and these are the same people who are choosing to work for a company operating an illegal practice.

I did like how right after I get a "this call may be recorded for training purposes," and I started in with my "die in a fire" routine, that the rep came back with, "Maybe you should!." Great customer service there.

I feel no compulsion to be polite to scammers and thieves.

I've only gotten one of these calls since the first time I went off.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:43 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've resorted to creating a contact -- "F*CK HEAD" -- on my phone with a silent ringtone, and assigning new numbers to this contact as they come in.

This is exactly what I did (except that I put a 'Z' on the beginning of the name to throw it to the end of my contact list).
posted by gimonca at 7:47 AM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I get these calls but they come in cycles... every couple days for a week or so and then nothing for a month or two. Then it starts up again. I have caller ID so I just never answer when I don't recognize the number.

I was going to say that I was on the do-not-call list but I just realized that that was for my old phone number. I've had a different one for three years now. These are virtually the only telemarketers that call however.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:14 AM on May 3, 2009


I got these calls, and I pressed 1 (or whatever) as if I were interested, to get me to a live person. Then I asked to be taken off the list. The guy I got said, "Okay, I'll take you off the list..." then added, gleefully, "There are 65 other companies that make this call, so you have 64 more to go!" cackled, and hung up. Which made it pretty clear--as if it weren't already--that this is not really a legitimate company with any legitimate kind of customer service

After that I just stopped answering the phone during the day. I let the answering machine pick up. It hasn't stopped the calls but it has saved me some aggravation. Thanks sciencegeek, knile, and Houstonian for the suggestions. I've reported them to the Do Not Call site, but it's good to know more actions I can take.
posted by Ms. Informed at 8:55 AM on May 3, 2009


That Verizon "lawsuit story" you linked to is from a year ago. And I can tell by the way it's structured that it's nothing but a press release.

It's just Verizon covering its ass. Even they don't know what to do about this.
posted by Zambrano at 8:58 AM on May 3, 2009


Verizon settled the lawsuit for $50,000.

They donated the proceeds to charity, but this does nothing to stop the calls.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:06 AM on May 3, 2009


These calls are the result of an organized criminal enterprise. There's nothing you can do to stop them. The only hope is that legal pressure will eventually find these folks and put them in jail. You could complain to your phone company or your attorney general.

Verizon recently won one lawsuit.
posted by Nelson at 9:10 AM on May 3, 2009


I also get these calls and I don't have a car. Letting the answering machine screen calls is a work-around for landlines, as they never leave a message and I'm a troglodyte who keeps the cell phone turned off until I need to make an outgoing call. Voice mail? What's that?

I really wish somebody would make a smart phone that could sniff out scammers and automatically launch an app that would keep them talking, ELIZA-style, as long as possible. Waste their time without wasting mine. Hey, MeFites, anybody out there have the coding chops to do this?

posted by Quietgal at 9:58 AM on May 3, 2009


I asked this question last year.

Here was my solution: I use You Mail (free) to handle all my voice mail. Up until last year, they used to display their number on my caller ID. I set their number to ditch mail (hangs up after playing a greeting) and set my individual greeting for them to the AT&T disconnected number greeting (available free through youmail).

As far as I know, autodialers are programmed to recognize that message and automatically remove (dead) numbers from their database. Worked for me!
posted by special-k at 10:18 AM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Consumerist recently posted some of the companies behind the robocalls. Verizon is also starting another lawsuit against them, since they won the last lawsuit.
posted by schnee at 3:09 PM on May 3, 2009


Seems obvious, but take down the dates and times of the calls. After you rack up about 10, call your provider and tell them you've been getting a string of harassing calls. That might go nowhere, but who knows.

I get these constantly too, and I don't own a car either.
posted by ostranenie at 4:29 PM on May 3, 2009


and automatically launch an app that would keep them talking

Somebody actually did this a few years ago, albeit with a land line and a voice modem. I can't find the link but they posted a real recording and it was pretty hilarious.
posted by ostranenie at 4:36 PM on May 3, 2009


Contact your local attorney general's office. These guys are violating federal laws regarding the do-not-call list.

That's precisely the problem -- in order to report them, I have to know who they are. However, a) they hang up when I ask this, and b) they have faked their number so I can't look them up online using the phone number I get from caller ID.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 PM on May 3, 2009


I think you guys might find this interesting: Darian and Cory Atkinson (President and VP of National Auto Warranty Services) are Excellent Christians!

From here in 2007:

"The Exodus, an all ages nightclub promoting Christian values and family entertainment, will likely open to area residents this fall.

Aldermen approved the final development plans for the community center Wednesday, which will be located within the Mall at Wentzville Crossings that owners Cory and Darian Atkinson purchased last March....

[T]he Atkinsons' developed the idea for the club based on what they felt was a need in the area for positive, family-appropriate entertainment."


And there's more, from here posted 2008:
"Finally, a positive headline from the heartland, in Wentzville, MO — USfidelis Welcomes Element Church home.

For years, Element Church, a highly reputed congregation of the Wentzville community leased space from the Chesterfield YMCA. As their emerging membership numbers grew, the space became cramped and, it was evident that the church needed a new home. Out of the kindness of his heart, CEO of USfidelis, Darian Atkinson, who is a member of Element Church, offered his mega complex at Crossing in Wentzville."
posted by Houstonian at 6:20 PM on May 3, 2009


These guys got a hold of all the numbers in my office last year. And they call them all one after the other several times a day. It's an open plan office so this drives everyone nuts.

And now we know where they live. thanks Metafilter :)
posted by fshgrl at 8:12 PM on May 3, 2009


For what it's worth, there's not just one company making these calls. The one that harassed me was General Warranty Services of Salem, NH.
posted by bengarland at 8:19 PM on May 3, 2009


The Today Show on NBC had a segment about this. It focused on National Auto Warranty/US Fidelis (the owner's a born-again felon and building a huge mansion; the BBB has gotten a record number of complaints; the warranty covers nothing) but they start and end with comments about how many calls everyone is getting.
posted by Houstonian at 8:45 PM on May 3, 2009


You need to go to the police. They can record the calls and you can prove harassment. They'll be able to find out the number of the company for you. What they're doing is illegal.
posted by xammerboy at 8:58 PM on May 3, 2009


Now that I've read the rest of the thread, I would recommend just telling them they have a wrong number. There are two ways to be removed from a list - tell them you are Do Not Call or tell them it's a wrong number. Death in the family is a good one. You definitely don't want to call back for a dead person.
posted by xammerboy at 9:03 PM on May 3, 2009


I don't see how death would change issues at all. They could give two farts who they're scamming, so if they reach a human via phone, they will keep contacting that human. Just because that human is using a dead guy's phone is of no relevance to them.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:51 PM on May 3, 2009


I personally would be a big fan of calling the aforementioned number and hitting whatever extension for your selected official - possibly trying to sell them something if you have a good telemarketing style, or simply seeing how they like being annoyed while trying to do their job... Revenge is a dish best served annoyingly...
posted by chrisinseoul at 10:57 PM on May 3, 2009


I will never understand why people think they are under some obligation to have polite conversations with these demon fucks. Here's how you get them to stop calling you: as soon as you realize it's a telemarketer, hang up. Don't talk to them. Don't tell them you're not interested. Don't politely ask them to take you off the list. They don't care about any of that. Just hang up. With some practice, you will be able to recognize a telemarketer before they even talk (there's a short, identifiable pause after you pick up as their auto-dialer connects to someone in the phone bank). They have no consideration for you, so why have any for them? I've done this for many years, and for the last few years before I disconnected my land line and went cell-only, I never got any telemarketing calls ever. They had all given up. In my younger days, I would even do shit like hold the phone up to my stereo speakers and play obnoxious music like GWAR or something really loudly into the phone, but abusing them takes more effort than just ignoring them.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:32 AM on May 4, 2009


[comment removed - we don't do that "post people's personal info" thing here. link to it if you need to, thanks]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:36 AM on May 4, 2009


That's precisely the problem -- in order to report them, I have to know who they are. However, a) they hang up when I ask this, and b) they have faked their number so I can't look them up online using the phone number I get from caller ID.

I think that's why you should, basically, take bengarland's advice. String them along for a while, feigning interest. Ask various questions, and eventually get the name of the person you're talking to, and a phone number/extension so you can call them back, just in case. Hopefully, as you start to raise potential objections ("money's kind of tight right now"), they will pass you up to a supervisor. Ask him questions, getting name & number. Then, when you're armed with all of this, you can contact the FTC, Attorney General, Verizon, etc. as others have said.

Good luck!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:27 AM on May 4, 2009


I filed an FCC complaint about this too, and they returned it saying they had determined it wasn't a violation. Sigh.
posted by booknerd at 12:35 PM on May 4, 2009


This FPP will make you feel a little better about it.
posted by Simon Barclay at 5:44 PM on May 6, 2009


The Today Show on NBC had a segment about this. It focused on National Auto Warranty/US Fidelis (the owner's a born-again felon and building a huge mansion; the BBB has gotten a record number of complaints; the warranty covers nothing) but they start and end with comments about how many calls everyone is getting.

But that seems to be two different things, though. The Fidelis group seems to have a different M.O. -- put an Ad on TV and wait to see who calls THEM. I'm talking about the people who call YOU.

This FPP will make you feel a little better about it.

It's actually got me a little frustrated -- because the FPP seems to point to someone who identified a totally different person from the culprit in the linke knile linked to above.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:20 PM on May 6, 2009


EmpressCallipygos, I don't think it's just one company that is doing this. It's several. I can tell you who was calling me, and I can point to the Verizon settlement with them, and other things, but clearly it's more than one company.

Since it's the same scam perpetrated by multiple companies, it'll take some work on your end to find out who is calling you (like, talking to one of the people who call, and playing along until you find out which it is).
posted by Houstonian at 10:32 PM on May 6, 2009


Since it's the same scam perpetrated by multiple companies, it'll take some work on your end to find out who is calling you (like, talking to one of the people who call, and playing along until you find out which it is).

But if multiple companies are all using exactly the same recording, this tells me that they are all SUB-companies under a single umbrella, no?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:33 PM on May 7, 2009


Want to get medieval on their arses?

Buy a sports whistle, keep it near the phone. When they call, let rip down the line with everything you got. Then hang up. Repeat as necessary.
posted by nudar at 9:34 PM on May 7, 2009


Looks like the Feds are fed up themselves now too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:18 AM on May 11, 2009


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