Posted tagged ‘spam’

Feds sue robocall companies

May 12, 2009

NY Senator Charles Schumer was talking about the calls at the weekend. And now it looks like federal prosecutors are stepping in. This from the AP:

Federal regulators are close to filing lawsuits against companies believed to be behind a national wave of spam “robocalls” warning people that their auto warranties are about to expire and they need to sign up for new service plans.

Schumer says the message “Your Car Warranty Has Expired” already has brought some 300,000 complaints nationwide.

Complaining to the FCC

May 6, 2009

fcc_complaint_redact

I filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. I understand they enforce complaints made regarding unsolicited phone calls that violate the TCPA. I was encouraged by their questions (e.g. was this call pre-recorded, to a cell phone, expressing urgency, etc.). We’ll see what happens.

Here’s the link to do this yourself.

Complaining to the FTC

May 6, 2009

ftc_complaint

Filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission with the information on the two companies I connected to the robocalls. Whatever the outcome might be, it certainly feels satisfying.

I’m also encouraged by this notice: “Your complaint has been entered into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.”
Here’s the link to do this yourself.

Tracking another company

May 5, 2009

I found another company behind one of the auto-warranty calls! I realize it’s not hard to do now, so I suggest anyone who gets these calls to do the same. That way you can file a complaint against the company. Here’s the info:

fidelity_mag

Fidelity National Warranty
804 Meadowbrook Dr., Suite 100-B
Olathe, KS 6602
1-877-847-7799

Here’s what happened:

I get the call. I press 1. I speak to a rep. I tell them a car model and year (VW Passat, 2000).
I get transferred to a representative named Jimmy.
Jimmy asks me the same questions, tells me he can get me a warranty.
I tell him my battery might die, so I need his number to call back.
Jimmy tells me he can call me.
I tell Jimmy I don’t know the number of my landline, so Jimmy gives me his number: 1-877-847-7799 x128
I ask Jimmy the company, he tells me it’s Fidelity National Warranty.
I look it up. Bingo, it’s a company based in Oathe, Kansas.

Here’s info I gleaned from the Kansas business directory

Entity name: FIDELITY NATIONAL WARRANTY, INC.
Entity ID: 4268728
Previous Names: PATRIOT WARRANTY COMPANY, INC.
Current Status: ACTIVE AND IN GOOD STANDING
Current Mailing Address: 804 MEADOWBROOK DR SUITE 100-B , OLATHE, KS 66062
Date of Formation in Kansas: 12/22/2008
State of Organization: KS
Resident Agent: MICHAEL J. FISCHER
Registered Office: 11000 KING , OVERLAND PARK, KS 66210

So it’s a company registered in Kansas that formed in December 2008. I wonder if they were something else before then. A search for Patriot Warranty (the previous name listed) comes up with the same entity on the Kansas directory.

What this means:
As theorized by a commenter, there seems to be some kind of third party service responsible for the illegal auto-dialing that connects to various companies that want to sell auto insurance. One time it connected me to Automotive Warranty Protection Services, aka National Dealers Warranty Inc., (based in Missouri, currently being sued by Verizon – although not the company that settled). This time it connected me to Fidelity National Warranty (not to be confused with US Fidelis, aka National Auto Warranty Services, which WAS one of the companies that just settled with Verizon).

I agree with that commenter that the company in The Netherlands that was named in the Verizon suit is probably behind this third-party company. A search for that company – Tele Europe, B.V. – comes up with a couple of different phone numbers. I tried one and it gets to a different company, but apparently that company is in the same building as Tele Europe. I just spoke to the guy who answers that phone and he gave me the building’s reception number. I tried calling, but it’s after business hours in the Netherlands, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

In the meantime, I will ask the Verizon rep who was on the Brian Lehrer Show if he’ll give me a contact for Tele Europe. Then we might get closer to the source of these illegal calls.

If anyone has any other suggestions, please keep them coming.

If you’re interested, here is some other information I got from the call:

(more…)

Tracking the call: Advice for you.

April 30, 2009

Yesterday National Auto Warranty Services, one of the companies that sells warranties through telemarketing (also known as US Fidelis), settled a lawsuit with Verizon for $50,000 and a promise to stop calling Verizon customers. Some news outlets are suggesting this will put an end to the calls. It will not. As I showed on this blog, companies other than NAWS/Fidelis are behind the calls.

Because of that story, I was on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, talking about my story, along with a rep from Verizon.
I thought that by telling my story, other people would be able to track down the calls and file a complaint once they could prove which company it was. But I realize it’s not easy to get the information you need to file a complaint, so I figured I’d post this advice.

When you get the call,

1) Press 1 to speak to a representative.
2) This representative is unlikely to give any info about the company, so just tell them you are interested in the warranty. If they ask for a make and a model of a vehicle, give them one.
3) You will be transferred to a person who can give information about the company, so do whatever you can to get his phone number. I told them I had to call back with the mileage of the car and that my battery was dying. Only then did he give me his number.
4) Google the number. It should lead you to a website for one of the companies.

Now you should have the info you need. If you’re unsure of which company it really is, post it here and I will help (I’ve done lots of research into the various company names).

I tracked my factory warranty call!

April 28, 2009

carphonenew

Today I did it! I tracked down the factory warranty call!

It’s Automotive Warranty Protection Services, aka National Dealers Warranty Inc., of St. Peters, Missouri.

A call today led me down a path of research that turned up the company’s name and details of  legal action for shady practices going back years that include the use of illegal telemarketing calls like the ones I and everyone else seem to be getting.

The company was even sued by the Missouri State Attorney General last year. They  settled for a moderate sum and a requirement that the company never use illegal automated calls again. Well I got a call from them today, so they appear to be continuing the practice in violation of this settlement, not to mention federal law.

[Note, this is not US Fidelis, a different warranty services company mentioned on many blogs as being behind the calls.  (not saying they don’t do it themselves, but it’s not the one I tracked down today). There was also a report on NBC’s Today program about US Fidelis, as well as two investigative stories about its founder in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.]

Here’s exactly what happened today:

(more…)

A new theory: They ARE working for themselves!

April 23, 2009

everybody_marketingHad an interesting email exchange with internet thinker, Clay Shirky. He suggested that Porsche might NOT have been lying when she told me she was working for herself. Clay says this is part of the trend in industry to outsource tasks to a crowd (“crowdsource“).

Here’s what Clay said:

“That’s where most of the ‘work from home’ links lead to…since no one who signs up to work from home cares about what they’ll be working on, there’s no real way to figure out which of the franchise telework operations are handling the warranty calls by searching.”

This is part of the thesis behind Clay’s influential book, Here Comes Everybody, which continues to help explain the big societal shifts we’re seeing.  Clay:

It used to be that when we saw coordinated activity, we assumed a formal organization was behind it.
Now, because coordination can come from tools instead of managers, you can get organization without organizations.

If Clay’s right, how can the FTC possibly enforce the Consumer Protection Act or even the Do Not Call list when there’s no central organization to charge?

The plot continues to thicken.

PS Thanks to Absurd Delight for the compliments. That blog also has links to some funny YouTube videos of people responding to these callers in what AD calls a “less journalistic” manner than me.