Saturday, August 30, 2008

Telemarketers or Terrorists?

You may be on the National Do Not Call List but that doesn't mean you won't get call from telemarketers. Charities, political candidates and places you do business with can still call you to solicit funds or to sell you other services. Since most of these calls are outsourced you never know what you'll get into.

You can imagine my shock when I answered the telephone yesterday and was told that it was my bank calling. The young man informed me that several million credit card accounts had been breached and my bank wanted to send free credit reports to my house so I could review them and make certain that everything was okay.

So he freaked me out a little. Okay, he freaked me out a lot. He asked permission to transfer me to his verifier so they could make certain the reports would get to the correct address and they'd sign me up for an identity theft protection program. Thank goodness for that transfer. It allowed me to gather my wits.

When the young lady came on the telephone I knew that I wouldn't give her my address. If she was my bank she should have it. Correct? I also knew that if there had been a breach I wouldn't have to sign up with a service to get free credit reports and I could access my account online to check for errors.

The first thing she wanted to do was record the call. But I asked her why I should have to sign up for a service if the bank was at fault. She had no plausible answer but went into her hard sell pitch. I hung up the phone and contacted my bank. After being passed around a bit I did find out that the company who called me was associated with them and were marketing a product. Not because of an imminent danger but because they wanted to sell stuff.

I asked that my bank put me on a do not call or mail list for marketing purposes. I called the company back who had called me and requested to speak to a supervisor and filed a complaint about their intimidation tactics. I was assured that the sales person had acted of his own accord and would be reprimanded. But I'm not so sure.

The long and the short of it is, no matter what they tell you on the phone you've got to have a little breathing space. Get the name and number of the person calling you and the name of their company. Request information in the mail or via fax for your review. Don't ever let them push you into a corner or scare you into something that you'll regret later.

When you receive those privacy notices once a year in the mail from companies that you do business with call their opt out number and you can be removed from calling and mailing lists. To become part of the National Do Not Call Registry go to and don't forget to register your cell phone number. This registration will never expire.

No comments: