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FTC shuts down five US robocall operations

'This is Rachel from cardhol ... bzzzz'

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The Federal Trade Commission has successfully shut down five US robocall operations in Arizona and Florida that bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from people desperate to cut down on their credit card repayments.

The operators, Treasure Your Success, Ambrosia Web Design, A+ Financial Center, The Green Savers, and Key One Solutions, were spamming the telephone network with automatic calls from "Rachel in Cardholder Services," using spoofed numbers. They have now had injunctions placed against them in federal court.

Callers were promised that by paying an upfront fee, their credit card interest rates could be cut to as low as 0 per cent, with some offering a money-back guarantee if the buyer didn't save more in interest fees than they paid up front for the service.

In fact, the FTC reports, customers would pay up to $3,000 for the organizations to either ask their credit card companies for a rate reduction (something they could do for themselves), or to simply apply for them to get a credit card with an introductory zero rate of interest for six months or a year.

The FTC ruled 5-0 to shut down the robocall operations, pointing out that disguising one's number, calling numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, misrepresenting products, and collecting up-front fees are all illegal under the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

"At the FTC, Rachel from Cardholder Services is public enemy number one," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in a statement. "We're cracking down on illegal robocalls by bringing law enforcement actions and pursuing technical solutions to the problem."

The move comes as part of a larger FTC crackdown on robocalling. Earlier this month, the organization offered a $50,000 reward to the person who invents a technological system that can identify and shut down robocalls across telephone, mobile, and VoIP channels. ®

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