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FTC Whacks "Rachel From Card Holder Services" 289

coondoggie writes "Just two weeks after it challenged the public to come up with a better technological way to stop incessant robocalling, the Federal Trade Commission pulled the plug on five mass calling companies it said were allegedly responsible for millions of illegal pre-recorded calls from 'Rachel' and others from 'Cardholder Services.' 'At the FTC, Rachel from Cardholder Services is public enemy number one,' said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz at the announcement of the cases."
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FTC Whacks "Rachel From Card Holder Services"

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  • Halleluja! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:20PM (#41843831) Journal

    I have been receiving no less than 3 calls a week for the last 6 months from "Card Services" with this robocall. The numbers were always different, so blocking didn't help.

    Often the calls came in as late as 9:00 p.m., which was seriously annoying.

  • YES! Kill the sluts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:20PM (#41843837)

    Rachel has been calling me for years and the ho needed to be taken down. Nothing works to stop the bitch. Screaming into the phone, swearing at them, putting the phone down and not talking, pretending to be a mindless fool who can't find their cards and keeping them on the line for long periods of time. This outfit is just so lame. I had recently recorded the tones that are played when the call was transferred by pressing "1" so I could dial them directly and start bothering them.

  • foghorn? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:22PM (#41843859) Homepage Journal

    I hope the pre-recorded foghorn caller is included. I think it's offering some travel package, but since the first thing you hear is a loud lighthouse foghorn sound, I haven't listened to the pitch for the last several years. They've been attacking my office line about 3 times a year for the past decade, from different caller ID numbers.

  • by WoodstockJeff ( 568111 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:28PM (#41843959) Homepage

    No information on when they did this, but I got a call from the outfit just two days ago, so they were still operational on Tuesday.

    Or, is this like so many other things done at the administrative level nowadays? "We shut them down, by sending a strongly worded letter to the post office box listed somewhere!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:32PM (#41844005)

    Actually one of the reasons the corporate veil can be pierced is that it is just being used as a front for illegal behavior. If you have over a certain number it's actually worse because you are subject to additional charged under RICO.

  • by StormyWeather ( 543593 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:41PM (#41844121) Homepage

    I have noticed most of these calls come disguised via google voice numbers. They change their numbers nonstop, and the majority of the time when you press one to talk to an operator the system is overloaded and just hangs up on you. I knew they were making crazy money when I saw that. If they can't even handle the amount of traffic the robodialer is generating for them, they are obviously being very successful.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:43PM (#41844157) Journal

    I just hope they take the company owners, strap them to chairs, and force them to watch nothings adverts/infomercials, and while they sleep force them to hear robocall recordings. Do it 24/7/365, a' la A Clockwork Orange.

    What they do with "Rachael" is not my concern. >:(

  • Re:Halleluja! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:44PM (#41844169)

    Not so fast with the joy of victory there Bubba Chill, I received one of these calls about half an hour ago. Plus TFA says that the FTC filed complaints in court - not that the companies were shut down. So as always, the summary may have embellished the truth a bit in order to make the front page.

    Also, remember what's happening next week? It's an election. One major party (R) and one notable second string party (L) have vowed to reduce federal bureaucracy to that American business will be free to go about the business of American business without interference from burdensome government regulations and oversight. Can you image reducing government regulation and bureaucracy by eliminating the FTC trying to enforce the do not call list? I know, that's an extremely unpopular (and troll-worthy) example of where deregulation could take us but it is an example of how reducing government regulation of business can lead to undesirable (for most consumers) business practices.

  • Re:Yes! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:49PM (#41844219) Homepage

    We have something similar with Google Voice. We moved our landline to it ($20 one time fee and another $20 one time fee to keep our old Google Voice number) and have it redirect calls to our cell phones. With Google Voice, you can mark a number as "spam" which means that, if they call again, they'll get a "This number is no longer in service" message.

    We've have a series of calls that wind up showing up in Google Voice but not ringing our phones. We were puzzled until we realized that there were probably robocalls from either scammers or politicians. (Cue joke about them being one and the same.) Other people probably marked them as spam so Google decided to mark all instances of calls from those numbers as spam. We can see the number that calls, but we don't get bothered with the actual call.

  • by Peter Simpson ( 112887 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @01:52PM (#41844263)
    The skeptic in me thinks the FTC knew who these companies were all along. Five companies account for millions of unwanted calls a day, and disregard the DNC list? Seems that an operation like that would be hard to hide. Maybe the political pressure got to be too much and FTC felt they had to act? I'm not complaining, just asking why we had to put up with it for several years before there was any regulatory action.
    "Round up the usual suspects."
  • by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <> on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:03PM (#41844387) Homepage Journal

    The most annoying thing about Cardholder Services is that I know the bank I used to work for actually branded themselves as "Cardmember Services" for customer service, because they had so many cobrands and partners (airlines, hotels, etc - each with their own card branding). Which means that the legitimate bank using that name lent credence to the frauds who followed after.

    I raised a concern about it back when they first started doing it (years ago), but was just a lowly programmer who clearly couldn't understand the intricacies and nuances of branding.

  • Re:foghorn? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:05PM (#41844413)

    I hacked a quick script together to invoke 'mrnumber' (.com) or equiv service when my modem (yes, real modem on real landline) says the callerid (network CID, actually, so I just connect to a tcp port to get broadcasts of the CID).

    the mrnumber crowdsourced website seems to have decent enough go/noGo score so that I can just let the phone ring (let them think there's nothing connected, no person or machine there) or I can answer it if I want.

    its getting to be like email, where you want whitelists and anything not in that list gets a 2nd thought if you even want to let them pass-thru to the voicemail/ans mach.

    I have no solution for cellphones, but I'm not a big cellphone user anyway, so that solves that, for me. landline abuse is not technically hard to solve if you simply let them 'age you out' due to the line never ever being answered when they call. and if they don't give up, well, you still never get bothered. (my scheme will eventually have a hardware relay that passes thru the 2 phone wires or not, so that your phone chain, below, won't even ring or bother you).

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:10PM (#41844479)
    No, the telephone company knows trunking information. Remember that, the "Recieving" customer isn't getting billed... so our phone system was never designed to care who initiated the call. All your local switch knows is that the call is coming in on Trunk XYZ from some neighboring phone company... that company got it from somewhere else... and on and on. Caller ID was introduced much later and is just basically extra data tacked onto the call. It was designed not to be all that accurate intentionally. Imagine working at a bank and calling one of your customers. You want the banks phone number to show up, not your desk phone. Now that we're in the situation that we're in, it all looks very short sighted... but remember when all these systems were designed there was no VOIP systems. In order to initiate a call you needed a phone company to do that for you, and they would need to be complicit in your fraud. But now with VOIP services everywhere, with a little bit of knowledge you can do just about anything you want.
  • by gauauu ( 649169 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:10PM (#41844483)

    I don't know how they actually get any "business" -- the last 3 times they've called me, I've tried playing along to see how the scam works. Somewhere along the line, as I'm telling them what my current interest rate is, they always hang up on me. It blows my mind.

    One time, though, I had fun -- my other routine is to try to explain to the poor schmuck on the line (who is probably an underpaid normal person who can't find a better job) that they are working for scammers and probably should find a different job. One lady from "Card Services" started yelling at me about how they weren't scammers, they were a organization that wants to help people and that they never break the law, and that my phone number must not actually be on the do-not-call list if they called me, because they follow the rules. It was hilarious, she carried on for 5 or 10 minutes shouting at me, and she sounded like she actually believed it.

  • Re:Halleluja! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:39PM (#41844805) Homepage

    Well that sounds unnecessarily complex. I have this setup at home via Asterisk: 1) Call comes in 2) Prompt whether they are calling for me (press 1) or my wife (press 2). 3) Caller ID on phones show who the call is for and I don't have to answer my wife's calls. And we get ZERO robo calls. Those calls get hung up on after 3 repeats of the prompt and no button press.

    Really, the robocall blocking was just a bonus. This is how we survived when I was working from home and routed all calls to all phones in the apartment.

  • Re:Halleluja! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @03:13PM (#41845275)

    Don't try talking to the operators of these calls. They're abusive or they just hang up fast. I once tried to play along, but they told me I wasn't eligible, so they called me again two days later.

    If you're not busy, you can get some entertainment out of stringing them along for as long as you can. Not only does it totally piss them off when they find out that you're screwing with them, but every minute that they spend talking to you is a minute less that they have to potentially make money from scamming someone else.

    If everyone who got these calls would just answer and talk to them for a single minute without giving them any usable information, it would become so unprofitable that they would have to shut down.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel