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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

A peek behind the curtain

The call was vague and somewhat menacing: "this is a serious business matter. It is not a sales or marketing call." What followed was a brief but revealing look at the seamy underside of the banking system.

A Delaware-based outfit named Harvard Business Services had gotten my phone number in their database. It quickly became obvious they were debt collectors and I was immediately guilty until I could prove myself innocent -- by giving them my phone number, a key they could use to unlock my life.

Knowing my bills were all current, I obviously wasn't inclined to sacrifice my privacy for what I well knew was mistaken identity. My call was kicked over to a supervisor who quickly reinforced my notion in what became a rude exchange that ended with him hanging up -- and me filing a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General's office.

And the calls continued -- morning, midday, morning again after the initial evening call. I realized the best chance to stop the nonsense short of legal action was being home for the call that arrived last Saturday morning.

They asked for someone whose name that wasn't even close to mine. And with that the calls stopped. For now.

A few days later, a representative of a local consumer affairs council tasked by the AG's office called. What I had experienced was routine -- fishing expeditions backed by menacing tones and bullying. I was told the Division of Banks regulates these outfits should the calls resume.

For those four days though, I stood in limbo, accused of something that my own bank could easily attest was a bald-faced falsehood. I had to prove my own innocence and to do that short of being in the right place at the right time, the only way I could do that was give up my privacy to a total stranger.

1984 doesn't seem that long ago.

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Blogger Unknown said...

I recently had to deal with scam company that bought magazine subscriptions "on my behalf". They work by figuring you won't cancel them before the free period is up and then charge you a service fee to "administer" your account. Works great on the unknowing or elderly. Then the calls start saying you have an overdue account and need to pay X to settle it.

The real kicker is you can not call the magazines and stop them from coming. I did so, and they told me I had to go through the third party that signed me up. I asked who was on the account, and who was the magazines sent to, and they replied my name, but they still couldn't cancel.

Data mining is awesome. Shady operations from KS, Utah or Delaware can sign you up for services without your consent and then use their shady local courts to extort money out of you if you;re not on top of these things.

April 07, 2012 10:59 AM  

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