Wednesday, February 04, 2015

A public service announcement regarding 650-780-9288

If you call the number in the headline (650-780-9288) you will find that it has been disconnected.  The reason it is disconnected is because it used to be our home phone number, and we were getting so overwhelmed by robocalls (despite -- or perhaps because of -- being on the federal do-not-call list) that we finally threw in the towel and got an unlisted number.  At some point in the future, this phone number will be recycled, and some other poor unfortunate sod will probably end up getting the same deluge of marketing calls that we got.  But that is not the reason for this PSA.

The reason I'm putting up a PSA is that before this number was our number it (apparently) belonged to one Julian Carrillo and an associate of his named Maria.  The reason I believe this to be the case is that in addition to marketing robocalls we also often got calls for Mr. and Ms. Carrillo, mostly from collection agencies, but occasionally also from car rental companies and insurance companies.  On the off chance that anyone trying to contact the Carrillos tries to Google their phone number, I wanted them to find this: the phone number 650-780-9288 was assigned to me in June of 2010.  If anyone named Carrillo (or any other hispanic name) provided you with that phone number as theirs between June of 2010 and January of 2015, they were providing false information.  It is hard to imagine how this could be an honest mistake, as we have evidence that the Carrillos were still giving out this phone number more than four years after it was assigned to us.

As long as I'm on this topic, I will also mention this: the most egregious robocall offender was a company called (as best I can determine) Energy Upgrade California.  Their robocaller is very distinctive in that it opens with a woman's voice saying, "Due to the constant rise in energy costs..."  We heard this line on our answering machine so many times that I long ago lost count.  I tried everything to get them to stop calling, but they were relentless.  They are the cinder block that broke the camel's back and motivated us to get a new number.

I don't know if the company calling us was in any way affiliated with this web site.  I suspect not, because the web site seems kinda legit [1] while the phone version felt like a pretty shady boiler-room operation.  On several occasions I actually talked to one of their CSRs trying to find out who they were and what they were selling (and how to get them to stop calling!) but as soon as it became apparent that I was not a rube they hung up on me.

If you happen to be one of their victims, you have my deepest sympathies, and if there's anything I can do to help get them shut down I would be thrilled to do whatever I can to contribute to their demise.

[1] The reason I say "kinda legit" is that they claim to be affiliated with the California Public Utilities Commission.  If this isn't true, then this is a transparent fraud and I would think the attorney general would be all over their ass.  On the other hand, the site does not provide any traceable contact information, so that seems a tad fishy to me.  On the other other hand, the site does seem to be chock-full of real content, so if it's a scam someone put an awful lot of effort into making it look real.


Luke said...

You know about the US' National Do Not Call Registry, right? IIRC you can file legal charges for people who violate it, although some people get exemptions. Anyhow, that does take effort and getting an unlisted number might be easier. So I'll just consider this a public service announcement to those who don't want to go the unlisted number route.

Ron said...

Yes, as I mentioned in the post, we were on the do-not-call list. It didn't help, and I think it might have actually made things worse. I filed numerous complaints with the FTC. AFAICT, they all went into the cosmic void. And in order to take legal action against an entity you have to know who they are and where to serve process. I was never able to figure that out with EUC.

Zachary said...

Part of the problem -- as Ron mentions -- is that these companies won't give you any information about them. For example, a company calling themselves "Cardholder Services" often calls me, but refuses to even give me a phone number to use to call them back. So the FTC can't investigate them based on my report. And asking to be put on the company's internal do not call list often results in more calls, not fewer.

I'm not sure why the FTC doesn't work with someone who gets these calls to shut the companies down -- for example, by having someone buy the product being sold, then getting a warrant to get the company's information from the credit card processor.

Luke said...

See Forbes: Does the 'Do Not Call' List Even Work?; apparently California has some extra laws that might be useable, but you'd have to go beyond what the article says.

I wonder if there's a way to somehow:

1. record the phone #, robocall conversation with your voiceover/after saying you want this to stop, date and time
2. do this multiple times
3. make a purchase with a credit card
4. sue and use the money trail to identify the company

I have no idea if companies can be set up and dismantled without a trace, quickly enough that this wouldn't work. But it strikes me you could issue a chargeback and thus only lose time?