The Federal Trade Commission is continuing its crackdown crusade against the companies behind the billions of charming, low-cost, automated phone calls responsible for the 200,000 complaints it receives each month.
Its latest target? "Rachel from Cardholder Services," the unofficial mascot of five operations in Arizona and Florida that U.S. district courts served with temporary restraining orders yesterday, following the FTC's allegations that these businesses "made hundreds or thousands of dollars by making phony claims that they could reduce credit card interest rates in return for an upfront fee."
The five companies—Treasure Your Success, Ambrosia Web Design, A+ Financial Center, LLC, The Green Savers, and Key One Solutions, LLC, were all accused of following the same general scam motif, in which they enticed people with the promise of lower credit card interest rates in exchange for an upfront fee, usually a few hundred dollars to nearly $3,000. Unsurprisingly, the FTC alleged the companies did "little if anything" after collecting the fee.
"At the FTC, Rachel from Cardholder Services is public enemy number one," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. "We’re cracking down on illegal robocalls by bringing law enforcement actions and pursuing technical solutions to the problem."
Robocalls are annoying enough when they're not also trying to swindle you, especially considering most have been illegal since 2009 (political campaign-related calls are one notable exception). The real problem is when you run into characters such as "Rachel," who are often calling with a gimmick to hook you in order to obtain your financial and other personal information.
The FTC is exploring other options for how to combat the army of robocallers, most recently through its Robocall Challenge, which is offering $50,000 to the tech whiz who devises a smart solution to block robocalls on both landlines and smartphones.