How to Help Them Help Us

By Patricia L Johnson

18,571 people will soon be mailed checks totaling more than $16 million dollars for their losses from American Tax Relief, LLC doing business as American Tax Relief. The checks will be mailed by the Federal Trade Commission. American Tax Relief claimed they could reduce your income tax debt and thousands of trusting folks were scammed by this organization that has since been banned from telemarketing and selling debt relief services, in addition to turning over millions of dollars in assets.

The majority of us are being inundated with land line calls, mobile calls, emails, text messages, fax messages and snail mail from every Tom, Dick, and Harry as well as Anne, Lynn and Mary that more than likely we are not interested in receiving. Each day that passes my mailbox is stuffed with numerous offers from various companies wanting to part me from my money (and they’re doing a bang-up job) as well as a hand full of calls from organizations with phone numbers longer than the Serial Number on my cell phone.

The Federal Trade Commission has an online ‘complaint assistant’ that can help you file a complaint with the FTC on any of the following issues:

  • Identity Theft
  • Credit and Debt
  • Unwanted Telemarketing, Text or SPAM
  • Mobile devices or telephones
  • Internet Services, Online Shopping or Computers
  • Jobs and Making Money
  • Other

Our complaints assist the FTC in determining patterns of fraud and abuse in certain areas. The complaints go into a “secure” online database and may be investigated by the various law enforcement agencies that work with the FTC.

Please note the following statement from the FTC website

“The FTC cannot resolve individual complaints, but we can provide information about what next steps to take.”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but that sounds like a step in the right direction to me. Example – I have an insurance policy with one specific company that is continually sending me mailings and calling, in an attempt to sell me additional policies. I have verbally instructed them not to send me the mailings, I have e-mailed the agent and told her not to send me additional correspondence, and I have written to their headquarters telling them to please not send me further marketing materials yet the mail keeps coming.

Don’t forget – if your phone number is listed on the National Do Not Call Registry, telemarketers covered by the National Do Not Call Registry have up to 31 days from the date you register to stop calling your number. Signing up for this service is free.

Some calls will still come through even if you are registered due to the fact the FTC and FCC, due to jurisdiction limitations, do not cover calls from political organizations, charities, telephone surveys and companies that have an ongoing business relationship with you. My insurance company falls into that category, but if you contact the company and request they add your name to their own ‘do not call’ list, your request should be honored.

Most of the time it’s easier just to hang up the phone than go through all the bother of filing a complaint, but all that does is leave the door open for the marketer to waste someone else’s time. If we all act together there is a possibility we can stop these unwanted calls, texts, e-mails and snail mail solicitations.

© 2014 Patricia L Johnson



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