"Rachel from cardholder services" may not be calling you anymore.
A federal court order Thursday morning temporarily halted operations at five telemarketing firms that the Federal Trade Commission said illegally dialed consumers with millions of prerecorded messages — often saying they were from "Rachel."
The FTC said the "Rachel" telemarketing companies, all based in Arizona and Florida, told consumers that they could drastically reduce their credit card interest rates if they paid initial fees. Asking for such an up-front fee for debt-reduction services is illegal, the FTC said.
Callers are directed to live telemarketers, some of whom promised to save consumers up to $2,500 in finance charges, the FTC said. If consumers said they were interested, the telemarketing company then conducted an "audit" to make sure the customer qualified, according to the complaint filed by the FTC. That usually required the consumer giving out credit card and financial information over the phone, and often led to fees of up to $3,000, the FTC said.