FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 9, 2009
SCHUMER CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE FEDERAL ACTION ON CAR WARRANTY CELL-PHONE SPAM CALLS NOW DRIVING NEW YORKERS CRAZY
Annoying and Potentially Costly Computerized Telemarketing Calls Invading Cell Phones at Alarming and Growing Rate - Calls Warn "Your Car Warranty Has Expired" - 20,000 Complaints Already Logged Nationwide
Scam Artists Generate Numbers Randomly and Repeatedly So NY'ers Still Getting Calls Even If They Are on the Do Not Call List - Eating Up Minutes and Potentially Costing Hundre
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer requested that the Federal Trade Commission act swiftly to stop companies behind the wave of cell phone spam pitching bogus car warranty’s to New Yorkers and unsuspecting cell phone users across the country. Even worse, the scam artists are using random call generators allowing them to call people who are on the Do Not Call List, calling them repeatedly, driving them crazy, and gobbling up costly cell phone minutes. Schumer said the calls, which have been reported for months, are on the rise. Schumer himself and members of his staff received nearly identical calls last Thursday and the Better Business Bureau has gotten more than 140,000 inquiries from victims across the country. Schumer today asked the FTC to work quickly to identify the scam artists and shut their operations down.
“Cell phone spam may not be the biggest problem we have to deal with, but in the end it’s driving everyone nuts and it could cost New Yorkers hundreds in wasted cell phone minutes, or more if they get caught in the scam,” Schumer said. “This is an annoying scam whose perpetrators have found a way around the Do Not Call List. The FTC has to track them down and then shut them down to put an end to this nuisance once and for all.”
The scam begins when someone’s cell phone rings from an unrecognized number. The caller then turns out to be a computerized voice selling car warranties with voice starting out by saying "Out of warranty? You are still eligible to reactivate warranty coverage. This is the final call before we close the file." The recording typically gives the caller an option to stop receiving calls, usually saying "press two to be removed from the follow up list." However, the calls continue to come. The company making the calls has no idea what car a person is driving because the calls are randomly generated, so their contention that your warranty "is about to expire" is bogus.
Schumer today asked the Federal Trade Commission to take immediate action to stop the companies behind these intrusive and unsolicited car warranty telemarketing calls – both to cell phones and land lines. In a personal letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, Schumer wrote, “Not only are these calls a nuisance, but they tie up land lines and can eat up a user’s cell phone minutes, possibly leading to a higher cell phone bill due to overage charges. Consumers should not have to pay in both money and time for this or any other type of robo-dialer harassment.”
Schumer received one of these annoying calls on his cell phone last week and also will file an official complaint through the FTC’s website, www.donotcall.gov. Schumer encouraged any New Yorker who receives one of these calls to do the same.
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May 10, 2009
The Honorable Jon Leibowitz
Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Dear Chairman Leibowitz,
I am writing today to ask the Federal Trade Commission to take immediate action to stop the companies behind the increasing number of intrusive and unsolicited car warranty telemarketing calls – both to cell phones and land lines. I have received a significant number of complaints from New York constituents about these deceptive, pre-recorded messages. I myself received one of these annoying calls on my cell phone just last week and intend to file an official complaint through the FTC’s website, www.donotcall.gov.
I understand that more than 140,000 people have contacted the Better Business Bureau regarding this specific type of call. Consumers report that even after choosing the message option to remove your number from the company’s list, the calls continue. Not only are these calls a nuisance, but they tie up land lines and can eat up a user’s cell phone minutes, possibly leading to a higher cell phone bill due to overage charges. Consumers should not have to pay in both money and time for this or any other type of robo-dialer harassment.
Mr. Chairman, I urge you to determine whether these unsolicited, deceptive and possibly costly calls violate any of the laws enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, and to act swiftly against any company found in violation of such laws. The National Do Not Call Registry was intended to give consumers a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls. I am concerned that car warranty telemarketing calls are making a mockery out of that choice.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you on this issue.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator