— -- If you are one of the legions of consumers who suffered through those annoying robocalls from “Rachel with Cardholder Services,” you could have money coming your way.
That’s right. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer watchdog, has reached a settlement with a collection of companies it says used that ploy. And now a special administrator is preparing to mail out checks to victims.
The total amount available to repay consumers is $700,000. The FTC says it is mailing out 16,590 checks this week. Each check will be for $42.95 and must be cashed within 60 days.
Here’s how the scheme worked: Robo-Rachel called you and claimed she could help with your credit card interest rate. If you asked to be connected with a real operator, the company then claimed it could get your credit card interest rate reduced for a fee. Credit companies are not supposed to guarantee you credit or a particular interest rate in exchange for an up front fee.
So… does this mean Rachel is dead and gone and you won’t be hearing from her again? Maybe. When a robocalling scheme works, other companies often copy it. In fact, after the FTC took its first action against “Rachel,” investigators were frustrated when the calls continued, likely placed by other sketchy companies.
If Rachel is gone, other robo-calling schemes will probably take her place. So report them! Robocalls are now illegal without your written consent and the same is true with political robocalls to your cell phones. As these payments prove, the FTC does investigate them.
Opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.
Elisabeth Leamy is a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show." She is the author of Save BIG and The Savvy Consumer. Elisabeth is also a professional speaker, delivering talks nationwide on saving money, media relations, and career success. Elisabeth receives her best story tips from readers, so please connect with her via Facebook, Twitter or her website, to share your ideas.