Weekly Stories from You: My Mother Lost Money to Robocalling Scammers

Christina Tetreault
Staff Attorney

Monday, February 8th, 2016

DorisRobocallers may try to sell you on products and services that you don’t need or want. They may even try to get you to pay for things that don’t exist, like paying “taxes” on sham lottery winnings! For you, the answer to these robots’ pleas is clear: just say “No!” But for some, saying “No!” is not so easy.

Scammers are manipulative, and their pitches misleading. For some, these calls cause major confusion. Deborah witnessed this firsthand when she found out her elderly mother, Doris, had been sending money to scammers.

Here’s Deborah’s story:

Rachel from Cardholder Services has been calling me repeatedly. For a while, “she” was hailing from cities and states where I have no connections, so after a couple of times of answering, I quit taking those calls. Then she wised up and began spoofing the area code and first three digits of my phone number – so it appears I’m getting a call from someone local. Today, I answered again, only to find I’d been reeled into a call from Rachel – again.

It is beyond frustrating and beyond a waste of time.

My mother, who has advanced Alzheimer’s, almost bankrupted my father and herself when she was in the early stages of dementia. This happened because of predatory mailouts and predatory callers who get around the Do Not Call list by making robocalls. These people target the most vulnerable and delight in duping them.

My parents were very close-lipped about their finances. The day I found out about their catastrophic situation, I visited their home and heard my mom on the phone, giving out their checking account number. I asked her to get off the phone, then asked who she was talking with. She said it was the Social Security office, calling to give her a bonus for having paid her taxes so faithfully through the years. I would soon learn that my mom had fallen prey to many such scams.

At the time, I appealed to our State Attorney General. His office told me that basically nothing can be done. I do not believe that. I do believe that the government and business organizations who could fix this have simply not been motivated to do so. And the people like my mother, who are most affected, are often the least able to speak up for themselves.

As Deborah’s story illustrates, predators can find their way into via robocalls. We think the phone companies need to do more to stop them. That’s why we’re calling on the phone companies to offer free tools for consumers to block robocalls.  Join with us and more than half a million consumers.

View all Campaign Updates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *