For the last two months, we have gotten several calls a week from a company whose recording says, "This is an important call from Cardmember Services. There are problems with your account, but consider this your last opportunity to lower your interest rate. If you are interested, press 1."
How do you get them to stop?
I'm getting a lot of complaints like this. First, use Caller ID and search the number on Google.com. Usually, you can see other complaints on a website like 800notes.com that give you an idea about the caller.
It's safe to assume that lots of folks are annoyed by this obnoxious company, which is probably violating the Do Not Call Registry. So help build up the number of complaints by contacting the Federal Trade Commission. If you can figure out what state the calls are coming from (Google the area code if you can find it), complain to the attorney general there, too.
If you talk to a live person at Cardmember Services, explain that you are complaining to the attorney general and add, "I am taping your calls for evidence to use against you."
My parents lost their hard-earned money through the National Prearranged Services funeral scam. You did a fine job on the original article, but I haven't heard a word about where this stands. I want to see if I can get some kind of answer for my parents. Do victims have any recourse? Did the bad guys go to jail?
After an FBI investigation, the owners were indicted by the feds and await trial. Victims can call 1-800-334-3851 for information. Most of the payments are being covered by other companies.
Keep informed on any subject by setting up a Google news alert. Go to Google.com and search "how to set up a Google news alert."
I set one for the phrase "National Prearranged Services." Anytime those words appear in a news report or on a blog, I get an e-mail alert. Do this on any subject that interests you.
I read your article about force-placed insurance which is very similar to my current situation. I have called the bank several times but am unable to resolve the issue. Can you please help me address this?
Get the bank's attention by complaining to regulators. First, use this website to see who regulates the bank -- www.ffiec.gov/consumercenter/default.aspx. Second, file a complaint with your state insurance department. Third, complain to your state attorney general. Fourth, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Finally, go to the new U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at www.consumerfinance.gov and throw one more in the mix. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.
For the past 18 months I have been mailing our mortgage payments using envelopes provided by the bank. In December, we mailed our mortgage payment, and two days later the letter was returned to our house.
The post office told me the letter was returned because the From and To addresses were aligned together on the left side of the envelope. Their mail scanner was not able to pick up the address. The post office is telling businesses to change their envelopes so their scanners can properly read the envelopes. The post office needs to fix this.
You know, it's easier to change your behavior than the post office's. Use a plain envelope and hand-address the mortgage envelope. Or better yet, pay your mortgage with online banking and save the cost of a stamp, which is going up to 45 cents Sunday.
I've been contacted by a company that is offering to come and evaluate energy efficiency in our home. Do you have any information on this program? Sounds too good to be true.
Google the company's name and don't stop at the first or second page. Go deep into the search. Then try again and add the words "scam" and "ripoff" to the name to check for complaints. Check the company's BBB rating. Contact the Texas attorney general and check complaints, too.
If you decide to let the company into your home, promise yourself that you won't buy anything or sign a contract on that initial visit. Ask for the paperwork, and then mull it over and conduct more research. Consider calling a similar company and getting a second opinion and another bid.
I was ripped off for $200 by a fly-by-night guy who attempted to repair a dent on my car. This smooth talker approached me in a parking lot and promised to fix my dent, satisfaction guaranteed. He would only take cash. Then he covered the work with a thick plastic and said to leave it on for 24 hours before washing it off. I became suspicious after he covered his work with the paste and I couldn't see the results.
I waited 24 hours, as he instructed, and when I washed off the paste, the dent was not restored as he had promised. Is there anything the police can do to prevent him from preying on other innocent, vulnerable people?
I kept calling the number you gave me of the supposed business, but no one returned my calls. An Internet search of the phone number traces it to what appears to be an online-only business without a body shop. Readers may wonder why I don't share the business's name here. The reason is that legitimate businesses are using the same name, and I don't want to cause confusion. The important thing is not the name, anyway, but the scam itself. My suggestion: File a police report, complain to the BBB, and visit consumer websites and write what happened.
Coming Sunday: Fort Worth City Hall spends almost $50,000 on new showers.
The Watchdog column appears Fridays and Sundays. Dave Lieber, 817-390-7043