Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Get Gephardt: Ominous Sales Call Scares Utah Kids
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Michelle Poe
Photography by Brian Morris
Edited by Ryan Malavolta
(KUTV) Seven year old Elaina and her older brother Brodie say it felt like they were in a scary movie. They were home alone when the phone rang. Elaina answered and heard a man's voice.
“[The man] said, don't hang up. There's been a burglary in your neighborhood,” Elaina said.
Elaina told her brother and together the closed all the blinds, locked the doors and called their mom, Sidnie Schoonover.
Sidnie knew there was no real threat. She had received that same phone call dozens of times; a recorded message from some company claiming to be selling home alarm systems.
“They keep calling back and calling back and calling back,” Sidnie said. “We are on the do not call list, doesn't matter.”
Sidnie says the calls have been annoying and she was simply ignoring them. But after they scared her kids, she called the company back.
“I was really mad,” she said. “I called and called back, as many times as I could. You can never get anyone. You don't know the name of the company. You don't know who they are. You don't know how to find them.”
Sidnie decided to Get Gephardt.
We tried to call the number that had called Sidnie but we had no luck speaking to a live person. The number lists an Arizona area code but that is likely not where the calls are originating. Online we found dozens of complaints identical to Sidnie's but listing phone numbers with area codes from all over the country.
The actual phone number for the company is likely being spoofed. Tracking the real number to shut it down is close to impossible for the public, but not for the feds.
Kati Daffan is an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission where they have been working to shutdown robocalls like the one that scared Sidnie’s kids.
"If the recording is a sales message and you haven't given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal," Daffan said.
So Sidnie, the best chance to get those robocalls shut down for good is to report them to the Federal Trade Comission.
Daffan says that if you get a robocall you should hang up the phone. Don't press one to speak to a live operator. And don't press any other number to get off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, she says it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)