My Turn: Little help from the government in fighting scammers
The discussion on senior fraud that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen arranged last week was a complete waste of time. The regulators present seemed to think they had no responsibility to shut down even the most blatant scams, and it was the duty of seniors not to become victims. It’s FRM all over again!
Lots of people have complained about getting telemarketing calls when they are on the do-not-call list, but I am an extreme example. I had to get a land line because my heart monitor doesn’t work on a cell phone. I have never given the number to any credit card or electric companies. But despite being on the do-not-call list, more than half of the calls I get are telemarketers. Because of my heart condition I often nap in the afternoon and early evening. I am afraid that if a phone call wakes me up, I might misunderstand and agree to something foolish instead of just being annoyed.
The federal government could quickly shut down these operations by installing an extra line to some secretary’s office with an automatic trace on the line. Every time a telemarketing call comes in, an FBI agent could be dispatched from the nearest office to haul the caller downtown to talk to the U.S. attorney. People would quit working in the industry long before any cases went to court.
And some of the biggest phone scams come from the government and the phone companies themselves. This year I pay $8.10 for a measured service line, up from $6.10 last year, a 30 percent increase with no outrage from Gov. Maggie Hassan or the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission. On this I pay “taxes and fees” of approximately $10 per month which is a tax rate of more than 100 percent! It appears that the tax on a phone bill of $100 would be about $18 or only 18 percent, but I can’t be sure because neither the Fairpoint customer service representative or her supervisor could explain how the taxes and fees were calculated.
If President Obama wants to do something about high taxes, phone bills would be a good place to start!
(Roioli F. Schweiker lives in Concord.)