Action Line: FTC checks may be refund for robo-call scam
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Thursday, September 13, 2012
9/13/12 at 3:37 AM
Dear Action Line: My cousin received a refund check from the government over a 2008 credit card rate reduction scam. I never got a rate reduction but paid $49.95 and can't find out anything about this as my cousin already cashed his check. - H.L., Tulsa
This is probably a 2008 robo-call scam that bilked tens of thousands of dollars from 4,500 consumers nationwide. Three defendants and three companies were sued in federal district court by the Federal Trade Commission for violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. FTC won a judgment calling for "rescission or reformation of contracts, restitution, the refund of monies paid and disgorgement of ill-gotten monies."
FTC is mailing 4,468 refund checks for $31 to $1,300 to victims contacted initially by "Heather from Card Services" and "Client Services." The refunds are for those defrauded by telemarketers using robo-calls to pitch worthless credit card rate reduction programs for an up-front fee.
The refunds stem from the July 2010 judgment in one of several cases the FTC brought against defendants making illegal robo-calls. They are Economic Relief Technologies LLC, Nevada; SafeRide Warranty LLC, Florida; and VP Marketing LLC, Georgia. Human defendants include Jason James Eyer (ERT, SafeRide and VPM), Kara Singleton Adams (ERT and SafeRide) and James A. Schoenholz (ERT and SafeRide).
They are accused of calling throughout the U.S. using "robo-calling" and "voice broadcasting" technology. They used the names "Clear Breeze Solutions," "Money Works" and "Client Services" when selling purported credit card interest rate reduction services. After pressing 1, consumers were confronted by live telemarketers who told them they could substantially lower consumers' credit card rates by $4,000 or their money would be refunded (it never was). The up-front fee was $990 to $1,495.
After consumers paid the fees, defendants did little to negotiate better terms on their behalf and refused refunds to consumers who were dissatisfied with their services.
The defendants also ran the auto warranty scam "Auto Protection Center" and "Warranty Services," among others. They contacted consumers with prerecorded messages warning them their automobile warranties were about to expire but had no specific information on which to base these warnings. Telemarketing workers were told to obtain consumers' auto make and model, telephone numbers, names and addresses. They assured consumers they were "on direct pay" with (manufacturer name) and that the consumer would be protected by nationwide coverage. They were not.
Consumers who receive the FTC refund checks should cash them within 60 days of the date they were issued. The FTC never requires payment of money up front, or the provision of additional information, before consumers cash redress checks issued to them. Any callers posing as the FTC should be reported to the agency. Consumers with questions should call the redress hotline at 1-866-224-5404.
Original Print Headline: FTC checks may be refund for robo-call scam
Submit Action Line questions by calling 918-699-8888, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by mailing them to Tulsa World Action Line, P.O. Box 1770, Tulsa, OK 74102-1770.