Secrets of a robocaller

FTC case opens window to nether-world of telemarketing boiler-rooms; explains how car-warranty calls have survived so long

After all the investigations, and long after the advent of “do not call” lists, those annoying recorded calls offering extended car warrantees live on. Why? A case before the U.S. federal trade commission gives us some idea, as a former employee of one of the boiler rooms has lifted the lid on their super-secretive world. Only those naïve or dim enough to press 1 would ever speak to an attendant, notes Mark Israel, who worked for a Florida-based company called Transcontinental Warranty Inc. After that, Rule No. 1 was to hang up on anyone who asked questions about the company doing the calling. Employees say they could actually be fired for mentioning the name of the company they worked for. As for the warrantees, you guessed it: many are total crap, according to other evidence before the commission. Israel said he would pretend to “pull up” information about a client’s existing car warranty—even when he had no idea what the client drove. The real quarry was the person’s credit-card number, he said. With that in hand, the call went to a “closer,” whose goal was to get off the line, a.s.a.p. Makes Glengarry Glen Ross look slow and honest by comparison.

Los Angeles Times

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