What can I do? How Do I Stop the Calls?

The most common questions I’ve received about the “Tom” calls relate to 1) stopping the relentless barrage of calls, often received on individual’s wireless phone,  and 2) what can they do to help with the overall effort to stop these calls. And to be clear, by “Tom” we mean any prerecorded, live, or agent assisted voice response call placed to sell monitored home security alarms.

Here are a few things to consider:

I am personally getting very few calls at this point. But I’ve spent hours and hours speaking with the offending organizations and now when I get a call from a robo-dialer, who still fails to identify themselves as required by law, when I’m transferred to the actual alarm dealer they just hang up. I presume they look at the number and it reflects some negative history and they just drop the call. But from a practical perspective here’s what you can do to limit the irritation: Read more of this post

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AT&T Unable to Stop Subscriber Database Theft; 300 Million Names and Numbers May Have Been Harvested

Claims made in a federal lawsuit (pdf) by AT&T against two individuals and a Utah-based group of companies, reveal what may be the largest so called data mining, name and phone number harvesting scheme to be conducted in the United States. If proven accurate, this suit completely disassembles the whole -we have permission to call- fabrication, which leads from Utah, through several states, and right to the front door of my home. Read more of this post

CHANGE -**NEWS ALERT**- NBC News will air a report this week about “Tom”!

A report on unlawful telemarketing and the inability of the FTC to stop these calls will air this (UPDATE:) Friday, April 27th at about 7:40 AM (CST I think) on NBC News’  TODAY show. A source close to the investigation tells me that Jeff Rossen, National Investigative Correspondent for NBC News TODAY will present the story of how these calls have continued unabated, even in the face of direct requests by consumers, sanctions by state regulators, and class action lawsuits by plaintiffs. A high profile dealer for Monitronics, who was recently awarded an “F” rating to replace their lost accreditation with the Better Business Bureau,  will be featured in the piece.

This report will likely be viewed by millions of Americans who just like us have been getting these calls with no ability to make them stop. Share this news with those you know, and ask them to participate by sharing details about their experience here on this web site. It’s very, very helpful to know the name of the dealer involved with the calls, as well as the numbers that can be directly linked to them. The state regulators responsible for policing Alarm Systems Companies, sale persons, and installers are becoming more aware of this conduct and have given me the indication that with supporting details they will take action. In my state of Texas, violations of the alarm statute can bring criminal penalties to include a Class A misdemeanor with up to 1 (one) year in jail and a $10,000 fine per violation.

Thanks for your help and together we really will STOP TOM!

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(Photo credit: NBC News)

UPDATE: Joe is with ISI Alarms and claims to be “Honeywell” or “Security Promotions”

In the post about Joe I mentioned that it took a while for me to figure out who it was, but sooner or later the dealers have to reveal themselves. I contacted Honeywell International directly after getting many. many calls from a dealer who only would say that they are Honeywell. I actually called to ask if Honeywell knew who it might be. They didn’t, but told me  that they had their legal folks looking into it. When I was able to get a caller to slip up and reveal the name, I called Honeywell back and reported it. Well, here’s the text of an email I sent Honeywell today as they requested. It outlines the bulk of the story.

Read more of this post

253-246-8514 Calling John in Michigan

John in Michigan has been pounded by calls, ”  I get at least 10 or 20 spam calls or texts for every real call I get.”  So today he sent me  this picture of his cell phone screen. We recognize the numbers as those of the usual suspects. I bet there are hundreds of thousands of Americans in exactly our situation. Had a conversation with anyone from these numbers? Let me know!

He’s not the only one:

UPDATE:This post is a follow up to the original.

Caller wants to verify all prospect information but refuses to reveal her identity.

Continuing from the theme of my latest post. that dealers wish to remain hidden from view, it would be helpful to describe exactly how cagey and difficult they’ve become. Recently my spouse and I received repeated calls from 954-606-6576.  The call was the standard prerecorded “FBI” scare pitch and then a press 1 for more information. The live agent came on the line and announced “SECURITY PROMOTIONS” this is Donna. The pitch followed the standard script I outlined in the “Joe” post. They’re a ‘regional franchise” for Honeywell, along with the basic qualifying questions, “do you own your home”, “how many doors”, and the like. They offer a remote keychain device, but no “heat Protection” because I’m in Texas and that isn’t approved it seems. And of course everything is ‘free’ with the only requirement being a monitoring contract at “a dollar a day” which is actually $39.99 a month, $1.31 per day, or only 31% more than the pitch. I’m interested she thinks, so it’s time for the next step.

Read more of this post

Joe Calls Back! Clueless That We Talked a Few Hours Ago

Joe was nice enough to be persistent and call back again from the same bogus, disconnected phone number that appears on the caller ID. He had no idea that he hung up on me a few hours ago when  I nicely asked him what dealer he’s with.

Read more of this post

Security Alarm Sales Caller worried about lawsuit!

The people behind these security alarm sales calls seem to be getting more cautious. Generally, after a series of calls from a particular phone number I’ll answer and try to determine which dealer and monitoring company is involved. But like you I’m busy so it might take a few calls before I have time to listen to a sales pitch. What I do know is that they rarely if ever will identify themselves at the beginning of the call. In my opinion, this failure is the major violation and of course we know why. They don’t wish to reveal themselves to those who aren’t interested in case it’s someone who plans to hold them accountable through a lawsuit. Here’s a great example: Read more of this post

Lawsuit may reveal “Tom” technology

Discovered through a tip from a reader, a patent lawsuit (Noguar et al v. 1TO1 Sales Group et al) reveals quite a bit about the technology that may be behind the “Tom” calls. This patent document describes the use of prerecorded audio clips that an agent can deploy to respond to a prospective customer. The scariest part to me is the tactic of collecting information from the call and linking it to the identity or profile of the person called. Simple things like gender and interests can be easily retained and used in future attempts (or of course sold to others).

Read more of this post

Update: Stop Tom has been busy!

Like most readers, I have primary responsibilities which include running a business and raising a family that are way more important than investigating the home security alarm industry. But I have put hundreds and hundreds of hours of work into exposing these folks for the shameless bad actors I believe them to be and it was time for someone to take a stand. I felt all along that sooner or later, those who were wronged by the owners and executives of these alarm dealers and affiliates, would provide a tip or lead that would be gold. They have in spades. Read more of this post

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