■ Check scam
■ TV to change
■ Copy warning
Do Not Call
By David Horowitz
TELEMARKETERS ARE still making calls to homes
and businesses, despite restrictions established by the
national Do Not Call list. According to the law, tele-marketing calls are prohibited except when the business has a previously established relationship with
the recipient of the call, even a minor one. But government experts say salespeople are calling without
such previous contacts, betting that most residents
won’t take action and that they’ll complete a sale.
The federal government is the only entity that
can bring charges against a telemarketer that violates the terms of the Do Not Call list. But the
Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which
led to creation of the popular list, provides for consumers to take a “private right of action.”
This means a person can sue telemarketers, and
some have. For example, one determined private
citizen recently won $6,000 in judgments against
telemarketers in three cases, and more are pending.
For more information on the Do Not Call list,
including directions on adding your phone number
to it, go to www.donotcall.gov.
The Federal Communications Commission says
it understands the stress that this may place on TV
owners, so every household, regardless of whether it
needs a converter box, can request two coupons
worth about $40 to buy two converter boxes.
However, no one yet knows how much these
electronic boxes will ultimately cost. So there’s no
estimate of what TV owners will have to pay.
A helpful Web site on this
issue is at www.dtv.gov/consumer
BOTH OF my parents
have passed away, and
I found information on
life insurance policies
they had. I don’t know
if they are still good. I
have tried to contact
the companies, but
have had no luck locat-
ing their offices. How
can I track them down?
Too good to be true
A check scam, based on an old con game, is now
A check arrives in the mail, with an announcement that “You’ve won hundreds of thousands of
dollars in an international lottery!” Or sometimes
it’s a “sweepstakes prize” or “secret shopper reward,”
in which people believe they are being hired to act as
shoppers to evaluate the effectiveness of a business.
The kicker is that, to keep the winnings, the
recipient needs to wire 5 percent to an agent for
“administrative costs.” People anxious for the winnings immediately wire the “fee check” without
waiting to learn the prize check is a phony.
And they often start spending the winnings,
only to find out later the whole thing is a scam.
Rarely are the crooks caught.
What’s the newest risk
for identity theft? Digital
Most copiers manufactured in the past five
years have hard drives,
like a computer’s, for
scanning and storing
data before printing
the copies. If there’s
no password or
data—such as on the
millions of tax returns
copied this time of
year—can fall into the
Ask your tax preparers or the copy shop
you use if their copy machines have data security
installed. If not, you may
want to find a different
copy machine. C
The wave of the future
Are you still watching your favorite shows on an
analog television? If so, you should know that at
midnight on February 17, 2009, that picture might
disappear. That’s the federal government’s deadline
for broadcasters to convert their signals from oldstyle analog to state-of-the-art digital. You might be
able to keep receiving transmissions, but you’ll need
a digital converter box to do it, which will be available from retail stores during the transition.
AMY CAN TRELL
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate.
His “Fight Back!” commentaries are heard daily on
the Jones Radio Network. For stations and times,
check the radio page at www.fightback.com.
© 2007 FIGHT BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
CONTACT the insurance
commissions in the
states where the policies
were issued to find out
if the companies are still
operating under those
names, went out of business or sold the policies
to another company.
need to find if there
was a time limit on
the benefits. Some
policies are held
for a limited num-
ber of years.
If the poli-
cies were not
claimed by the
next of kin and have
cash value, the money
might be held with
the secretary of
state’s office in the
state your parents
You might also get
some helpful information from the Insurance
consumer help line. You
can reach them at 1-800-
331-9146 or online at
Do you have a question for David?
Just log on to www.fightback.com and “Ask David.” He will personally respond
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members receive a rebate off the normal fee.) Questions and answers of the greatest
interest to Costco members will be used in this column with the permission of the
contributor and will be posted on www.fightback.com.