Tag Archives: scammers

Today, I Submitted a Complaint with the NY AG’s Office. Here’s Why.

20 Feb

Today, I write to you out of rage. I don’t know if you all are aware of how much scams piss me off, but they REALLY piss me off. I am not one of those people who is like,

Oh, how cute, a scam. Let’s learn more about it give the scammers more notoriety and fame, ie Caroline Calloway.

Because where ever there is a scam, there is someone(s) who is the victim of it. Someone who has been knowingly taken advantage of. So, here is a story about a decidedly un-cute scam. In fact, to all my race running and riding friends: you might have gotten caught up in it.

A few weeks ago, I signed up to run a race with a few of my friends. It is one of my friends first race ever and I was, and still am, beyond excited to get to cross the finish line alongside her! The signup for the race, which takes place here in NYC this spring, was managed through a company based in Dallas called Active Network LLC. The outsourcing of registration for races is pretty common for smaller organizations so I didn’t think twice when I went through the process. What I did do was make sure to uncheck all the boxes so I don’t get any emails, unwanted magazine subscriptions or added payments for services I don’t want or need. Just sign me up for the race and let me do the rest. And yet today when I checked my debit card I noticed a charge for $89.95 that was labeled ACT ACTIVE NETWORK. I was completely confused. The only charge I made yesterday was $10 to the Warren campaign as a congratulations for her warranted MURDER of Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage but that was done on my American Express card. So, I did what I always do and I researched.

Well wouldn’t you know it, I somehow inadvertently signed up for a trial membership, the free period of which had ended yesterday. Friends, I never sign up for trial memberships because I always forget to cancel them and then I end up spending money on shit I don’t want and don’t need.* The first thing I did was dispute the transaction. I work hard for my money and it is the winter time and the bar has been very slow. There is no way I am giving away a chunk of my money to some membership thing that I did not sign up for and don’t even understand. After doing some more digging, I found out that I am by no means the first person to deal with this. Here is a complaint that dates back to 2014! Even with this piece of information, I thought I would do the right thing and give them a call. I called the number listed on their website, it said it was out of service. So I found a second number and called that one. What I found out is that if you wait long enough they actually present you with an option related to the credit card charge that apparently takes a lot of people by surprise. (When you Google the company, the charge is one of the top search results.) After a few more minutes on hold I was put through to a person. She said hello, introduced herself and asked how she could help. So I said,

Hello. I am calling about a fraudulent charge…

It was at this point that I heard a beep and Sufjan Stevens started playing. Weird. I looked at my phone and wouldn’t you believe it — she hung up on me and my phone automatically started playing a song I didn’t even know I had! Now I was really mad. I took the reasonable next step: Better Business Bureau, bitches! What I found was that this company has A LOT of negative complaints. Here is one of my favorites:

I’m a lawyer who has litigated deceptive “free trial” offer cases and I have no idea how i got enrolled in this Active Advantage scam. I do find that there was a class action settled in California regarding this practice, as well as an Iowa Attorney General action. this practice seems ripe for some more class actions or FTC referral.

I added my complaint to the pile. I still had some rage left over so I took the reasonable next step, and some good advice, and reached out to Leticia James, the New York Attorney General!** I explained my complaint AND I submitted supporting documents because everyone loves supporting documents plus it made me feel really official. Basically like a detective. I might actually go online and order myself a cool badge and wear it around for the next few days.

So I guess I will have to wait and see what Leticia James has to say about this. Hopefully her office will respond.

I know this probably sounds like a waste of time to some of you. I was on hold with my bank and with Active Network LLC for close to an hour; I spent a fair amount of time looking for other reports to be sure I wasn’t just an idiot who missed something; I filed complaints with two different government offices, including supporting evidence. But here’s the thing. This is crap. People shouldn’t have their money taken from them via questionable means. People budget. A random $90 withdrawal from an account can be devastating. And I am lucky enough to have time, research skills and an abundance of rage – especially right now. I can take the time to call my bank, submit these complaints, and do follow-up if needed. I can sit here and write this blog. A lot of people don’t have that time and, in my opinion, that is what companies prey on. They work it into their metric that a lot of people don’t regularly check their bank statements and might miss these withdrawals year after year (I saw reports of this). They rely on the fact that a lot of people will realize what happened, cancel their membership, (maybe) get a refund and never take additional steps. And then there are a few people like me who really don’t like to feel taken advantage of by a company acting in a shadowy manner. And more than that, I really don’t like that, based off my research, they have been doing this for years. And that there is a chance they are taking money from old people. I really don’t like when people take money from old people.

Next stop: Federal Trade Commission.

Anyway, I will keep you posted. And don’t worry, my hate fire is still burning.

*Side note, I think this practice that companies have of rolling trial memberships over into paid memberships without a reminder is sneaky and should be outlawed. We all forget to cancel that shit. I think I paid for a membership to the Wall Street Journal (PUKE)  for a year because I wanted to read one article about Simone Biles that was hidden behind a paywall and then totally forgot to cancel immediately. Technically my fault but I feel like a reminder would just be the right thing to do.

**Actually I just went to the website but whatever.

No, I Do Not Want to Lower My Interest Rate

17 Sep

Okay, so, someone told me that I already posted about this topic.  There is a strong possibility that that is the case but I have a sort of bad memory and also I don’t feel like going back through all my posts to see whether or not there is any truth to this claim.  Also, I don’t really care because this is a topic I find so frustrating that I am perfectly happy to post about it more than once.  What could possibly be so important, so frustrating, as to necessitate possible repetition?  Why, the inefficacy of the National Do Not Call registry, or course!

So first of all, in doing some research to write this blog post, I encountered the following important message from the National Do Not Call Registry:

Scammers have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry. The calls claim to provide an opportunity to sign up for the Registry. These calls are not coming from the Registry or the Federal Trade Commission, and you should not respond to these calls.

I have to say this does not instill me with a lot of confidence, not that I really had much before hence the need for this either first or second post on this topic.  But seriously.  Scammers have been pretending to be the National Do Not Call Registry?  What do these scammers say when they get you on the phone?  Do they ask you if you want to be included on the Registry and then when you answer in the affirmative they yell “psych!  You’ve been scammed, mother fucker!”  Do they some how manipulate the Registry so that you can never be added to it, no matter how many times you attempt to register either by phone or through the internet?  Do they then call you daily, rubbing in your face the fact that you fell for their cruel, cruel joke thereby aiding in the development of a very real and deep seeded fear of your cellular telephone? There are so many possibilities.

Anyway, I went onto the site once again to be certain that my phone number has indeed been registered because I get a lot of sales calls and it makes me mad.  It makes me mad not only because they are annoying, not only because I get excited when I get a phone call, only to have that excitement extinguished when I am faced with the pre-recorded voice on the other end of the line, but also because I think that the “companies” that make these calls are mean-spirited.  In my experience, most of the calls are attempts on behalf of the call-ee to get the caller to do something involving their credit.  If memory serves it has something to do with lowering interest rates.  I am actually not sure as to the nature of the call because I am always planning what I am going to say to the actual person on the other end of the line when I finally get the opportunity to speak with a representative.  I always opt to speak to someone.  I then attempt, always fruitlessly, to gather some information.  I have found that if you ask any of the following questions, or make any of the following statements, the person on the other end has been instructed to immediately hang up on you:  what is the name of your company; where is your company headquartered; this call might be recorded for quality insurance purposes; I am going to report you to the FTC.  The other day I was in a particularly saucy mood when I got one of my hated calls.  I, as always, chose to speak with a representative.  The lady I spoke to was, coincidentally, also feeling saucy.  Or maybe she is always saucy, I don’t really know.  Anyway, this happened:

Lady: Hello, would you like to try and lower your interest rate on your credit card?
Me: Which credit card are you referring to?
Lady: Do you want to lower your interest or no?
Me: Yes, but I doubt you can help me with that.  You need to stop calling me.
Lady: Need is a very strong word, ma’am.
Me: Yea? Well, so is ‘asshole,’ which is what you are because you called me during dinner.
Lady: Click.

It actually wasn’t during dinner at all.  It was the middle of the afternoon.  But what does she know?  I might have to go to work at 4. I might have a very strange schedule.  I might eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner.  I might have just lost my temper and made a stupid word choice error, a word choice error which I then beat myself up about for the following three days (actually the case).  You see, I was fully expecting to sass, but what I was not expecting was to get sassed right back.  Because usually the response to my sass is a hangup, which I also find very rude. It’s like, you called me, not the other way around.  If I had called you and sassed you, then you therefore possess the right to hang up on me.  But since you called me, I think the only party in the interaction that should, by the laws of phone etiquette, be allowed to hang up on the other person should be the callee.  You see, I was going about my day, minding my own business, thinking about rainbows and unicorns when you interrupted my day with your bullshit, and not to mention illegal, sales call to my personal cellular telephone and then you had the nerve to hang up on me, leaving me feeling not only angry but also rejected?  That’s really fucked up.  Anyway, I just really think that hanging up on someone you called, and also sassing someone when you are imposing on her day, is simply beyond the pale.  I am getting all worked up again.  Fucking lady and her fucking bullshit imposter credit card company.

So here’s another thing.  Those sham companies make me really angry because they prey on stupid people and that is just not right.  Most people find these calls to be just annoying.  Some people like me find them to be absolutely infuriating but I’m an extremist.  But then there are some people who think these calls are being made by people who actually want to help them and they give the person on the other end of the line all the information to totally fuck them over.  I mean, there must be people that share their personal information or else these companies would not be able to pay their employees, and therefore they would cease to exist.  There are some people in the world who are stupid, and it isn’t their fault.  There are also some people in the world who are NOT stupid but who lack basic financial literacy because for some reason teaching people about money and saving and investing and budgeting is not something that is considered important in this country.  (Well, I think some could fairly make the argument based off recent strikes, budget cuts and policy changes that teaching anything at all period is not important in this country but that is a discussion for another day.)  I just think that most people work hard for what they have, be it a little or a lot, and it is really not right to go and call them and trick them into thinking you are trying to help them and then take advantage of their stupidity or financial ignorance or whatever and steal from them.  And then what do the owners, or employees, of these companies say when asked what they do?  What if they were on a first date and the person on the other side of the dinner table was all, “what do you do?”  Do they say “I own a company that blind calls people and hopes they’re stupid so I can relieve them of all their savings?”  I would hope that if I were on that date I would pick up my drink, throw it in the persons face, pick up his drink, throw that in his face also, and then storm out.  Or, better yet, I would smile, pretend like I thought that was cool and then, when he was in the bathroom, register his email address on like every pornography site ever.

As you can see I have given all of this quite a bit of thought.

Oh, but the point of all of this that I totally forgot to make is that I registered my phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry sometime in like 2010 or 2011 and I still receive all these phone calls!  What the hell am I even on the damn list for if I am going to get the calls anyway?  Or am I on the sham list and I just never realized it?  While writing my thesis I wasted more time than I care to admit researching different phone numbers that had scam called me and then reporting them to the National Do Not Call Registry.  It really just isn’t right.  The National Do Not Call Registry owes me a lot of time.

So, yea, National Do Not Call Registry, get your shit together.  Protect the stupid people.  Also the people who get extremely angry about receiving scam calls and then find it necessary to spend an hour writing about it on their blogs. I am sure I am not the only one.