The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Monday, April 20, 2009

THIS IS NOT SPAM! {recipiants_name}

Sometimes the title just speaks for itself. Spam received just now — to a tagged address — started with the above text.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This is your second notice that your factory warranty is about to expire

If you have a cell phone, you've probably gotten this call. A recorded voice tells you that your factory warranty is about to expire, and please press 1 to buy a new one.

These calls violate USC 47 in at least two ways that I can think of. First, it's against the law to make a recorded phone call that isn't at least introduced by a live human, and second, it's against the law to make any sales call to a cell phone.

However the telemarketers have discovered something that the spammers already knew: Nobody's enforcing the law.

It started with mortgage companies, and quickly spread to other less-than-upright business models. Now, the telemarketers dial away with impunity.

Going after the telemarketers via the courts is a losing proposition. First, tracking them to the source is a near-impossible task — the minute you ask them who they are and how they got your number, they just hang up. Caller ID is useless because they use technologies that allow them to hide or even spoof the numbers. Calling back and yelling at whoever answers the phone only results in some poor innocent person being harassed. Googling for the phone number only gets you messages from other victims asking who it was who called them. Oh, and "press 2 to be removed from the list" doesn't work either.

Even if you do track them down, small claims courts have shown themselves unsympathetic, either not understanding the law or not caring.

But despair not. I stumbled across an informative post on reddit the other day.

Although I can't personally vouch for the information, it seems that one of the commenters has managed to track the car warranty spam to National Auto Warranty Services, Inc., aka US Fidelis, Inc., of Wentzville, MO. According to the post, Verizon, AT&T, and the Missouri Attorney General have all sued them, although the calls keep coming.

Googling for "National Auto Warranty Services" reveals quite a bit of information on them, not the least of which is that they're a scam as well as a nuisance. The web site National Auto contains a very simple landing page which says, in essence, "if you're trying to complain about telemarketing calls, it wasn't us. You're looking for
National Auto Warranty Service, Inc.
100 Mall Parkway
Wentzville, Missouri, 63385
Phone: 800-649-1856
The post on Reddit includes this same address, as well as a number of phone numbers and email addresses of relevant government agencies, such as the FTC, where you can lodge a complaint. I suggest you bookmark this page for the next time you get one of those calls. I know I will.

More information can also be found at