Broken Record: FTC Uncovers Another Scam Targeting U.S. Consumers Operating in Overseas Call Center
By Mel Fabrikant Friday, April 13, 2012, 04:53 PM EDT
Newest Revelation More Rationale for Why Congress Should Pass Legislation to Strengthen Domestic Call Center Industry
Another day, another revelation of fraudulent activity targeting U.S. consumers coming from overseas call centers, the Communications Workers of America said today. The latest news, similar to a February announcement, is that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) uncovered a scam operating out of Indian call centers that preyed on American consumers.
According to the FTC press release; “The defendants' scheme involved more than 2.7 million calls to at least 600,000 different phone numbers nationwide...In less than two years, they fraudulently collected more than $5.2 million from consumers, many of whom were strapped for cash and thought the money they were paying would be applied to loans they owed, according to FTC documents filed with the court.”
“Again we see Americans being victimized by scams that begin at overseas call centers,” said CWA Communications Director Candice Johnson. “This latest report is further proof of what we’ve already learned through harsh experience -- these countries lack the legal safeguards that U.S. call centers and U.S. laws already have in place to protect American consumers.”
A Huffington Post article on the new FTC investigation reported that the scammers, used “official-sounding aliases to deliver terrifying threats and pressure consumers to pay.” The story also highlighted several personal stories of those targeted: “The police car was only 30 minutes away, the caller told Brenda Foster, 46. If she wanted to prevent her own arrest, she better cough up $300, ASAP, he said. Foster, a waitress who lives with her husband in Portage, Ind., panicked and grabbed her husband's debit card to send the funds on the spot. And with that, scammer Kirit Patel added more to the millions in his coffers.”
A CWA April 2012 report on consumer data theft flags many concerns over consumer data security issues emanating from overseas call centers, including an earlier telemarketing scam operating out of an Indian call center that the FTC busted in February. In the U.K., a recent alarming investigation by the Sunday Times explored the existing black market for consumer data in India, and showed how easily undercover reporters were able to access and purchase valuable consumer data.
CWA remains a strong supporter of the continuing bi-partisan efforts by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY), Rep. Dave McKinley (R-WV), and over 100 Members of Congress who support legislation to strengthen the U.S. call center industry and to crack down on fraud emanating from overseas call centers in the process.
Link to FTC announcement of new scam: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/04/broadway.shtm
Link to CWA report on security risks at overseas call centers:http://files.cwa-union.org/national/News/Misc/20111215-offshore-callcenter.pdf
Link to letter from Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY-1) and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA-8) to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk on security threats at overseas call centers:http://timbishop.house.gov/uploads/USTR_Call_%20center_breaches_41012.pdf