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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.)

Legacy Comments2

I agree with gdn1. We have caller ID. I never, ever answer the phone unless I recognize the number and it's someone I actually want to talk to. I pay for that phone and am not a slave to it. If I do not recognize the number I wait to see if the person leaves a message. If they don't bother to do that I guess it can't be very important. I get five or six of these calls a day. These people are vultures and you are correct, they're seeking to prey upon the elderly. The worst are the robo calls because I have to listen to their stoopid noise until they're done. I won't lift up the receiver to break the connection because I wouldn't wan to reinforce them by letting them know the phone actually works. And guess who robocalled me last week? Jeanne Shaheen. Way to lose my vote, Jeannie. I have no use for telemarketers and refuse to vote for any politician or contribute to any nonprofit who makes an unsolicited call to my home. Having said that, I agree you are in danger of scammers catching you unaware. If you have a way of turning your phone off or unplugging it before you nap, do so. You are your own best protection. No one will ever care as much about you as you will. Our aging generation is ripe for the plucking and scammers are adept in moving quickly to avoid the law. We all need to be proactive about our safety. And yes, the scammers moved their operations to outside the US which is why the Do Not Call list faltered.

I hear you Roioli, but the fact is that most of the schemes and many of these calls originate outside of the USA, so sending out a G-man to haul in an offender isn't going to happen. Computer software programs are sold that place massive amounts of calls to any number the program can create. The best thing for you to do is get a new phone that has caller ID, and if you don't see a name on it that you recognize, don't pick it up and say hello. This is a big problem, but it's not something thats going to be easy to fix.

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