Bridget from cardholder services is stalking me.
She calls me two, sometimes three, times day with urgent news about my credit card account. If I hold the line for an operator, I can talk to one of her friends about lowering my interest rate to as little as 1 percent.
I never know it’s her because she’s pretty good at avoiding caller ID. My phone simply shows a call from places such as Las Vegas, Nevada; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Ogden, Utah; and Tyler, Texas.
It’s impossible to block her.
It appears Bridget has replaced Rachel, the chick who used to call me with the credit card messages. Rachel, and the unscrupulous businesses who used her, recently reached a settlement with the FTC and had to fork over $42.95 to each of the 16,000+ people they scammed.
Of course, I get more than Bridget’s robocalls at my house. Sometimes real human beings are on the other end of the line. Roger from Windows’ Bangladesh office now calls me about once a month because he receives messages that my computer is experiencing problems. There’s also the gal who wants me to redeem the cruise I won and the guy who’s going to be in my neighborhood next week cleaning carpets.
The sad part about all of this is I have a restraining order against Bridget, Rachel, Roger and a host of other telemarketers. My phone number is part of the national Do Not Call Registry, which is supposed to protect consumers from intrusive telemarketing calls.
The operative words are “supposed to.”
The Do Not Call Registry doesn’t work
The registry contains more than 223 million phone numbers, and the government can fine violators up to $160,000 if they keep calling after you ask them to stop. I’ve reported the numbers to the FTC, the federal group that oversees the Do Not Call Registry. I’ve politely told Bridget’s goons I’m on the registry, asked them to remove my number from their calling list, and even filed reports with the FTC.
She keeps calling.
Based on my estimates, Bridget owes the feds about $1.6 million, but the feds can’t seem to do a thing to stop her or collect the cash.
Why? The FTC gets roughly 200,000 registry complaints a month, and since 2004, the agency has taken only 112 enforcement actions against the violators.
The phone companies could stop telemarketers, but they choose not to
Blame the phone companies for the rise in spammy robocalls. According to Consumer Reports, the phone companies have the technology, but not the initiative, to block these calls from ever reaching customers’ phones. They’ve started an online petition that demands companies offer free tools to block the annoying and deceitful telemarketers.
Consumers can take a little action on their own to kill the calls. Nomorobo is a free service that culls the calls with providers such as Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Vonage and others; however, the service is not available for traditional analog landlines or wireless phones.
Unfortunately, I can’t get Nomorobo, and my service provider doesn’t seem interested in preserving my sanity.
I do the only thing I can.
I don’t answer my phone.
Bridget, Roger and the carpet guy now leave me messages.
I spend more time deleting voice mails than listening to them.
All because the Bridgets are stalking me.