"If a call or letter purports to be from a company the consumer did business with," says Kinsman, " the consumer should independently verify the source of the request and the reason for it rather than simply give out their personal or financial information over the phone."
>> Never press 1 or any other option during a recorded call offering an option to remove your name from the marketing-call list. "Call screening is more important than ever," says Schwartz, "and if you respond in any way, shape or form, you are leaving yourself open for even more calls."
>> If you haven't already signed up for the federal National Do Not Call Registry, do so at http://www.donotcall.gov. It won't stop robocalls, but you can file a complaint at the registry's home page (for a spoofing complaint, call 1-888-225-5322 or visit http://www.fcc.gov.complaints).
>> Cellphone numbers do not require registration with Do Not Call. Telemarketing calls of any type are against the law.
For privacy protection, consider blocking your Caller ID from showing:
>> Check with your telephone service provider, including mobile service. Cox Communications, for instance, requires a call to customer service to set it up. Once this per-line feature is set up, no one will see your name or number. To temporarily disable the service, press asterisk-82.
You can activate per-call blocking with some phone services by dialing asterisk-67 before making a call.
Calls to 911, 800 and 900 numbers can't be blocked.
Blocking Caller ID would not have stopped the scammers who used Massa's number, which left her feeling helpless and, in a small way, thankful.
"What is the person who has that number supposed to do?" she says. "I do not know how many people were called. When they were called, my husband's name appeared on the Caller ID. Who knows how many people have a very negative opinion of him without even knowing him. Good thing he's not in politics."
Medicaid Dental Scam
When the state attorney general's office announced a $9.9 million settlement last week with Gary Anusavice of North Kingstown, R.I., in a Medicaid billing scam it left claims unresolved against other defendants. This case isn't over.
Anusavice owned three Southern Connecticut dental clinics in the scam that cost the state's Medicaid program $21 million, but also had a ownership or other financial interest in several other practices allegedly involved in the scheme. One of those practices, Alpha Dental in Cromwell, and Dr. David Wu, who practices there, were named in the state's original complaint but were not part of last week's settlement.
"The case is pending," says Kinsman.
The Bottom Line last August detailed how several low-income patients of a Hartford dental practice were told by telephone that its Franklin Avenue office had moved to Cromwell and were offered shuttle service to an appointment at the "new" office. The Franklin Avenue office that belonged to an unaffiliated practice operated by Dr. Savvas Mintatos, in fact, had not moved. His patients, instead, were being shuttled unwittingly to Alpha Dental. (Read the column at bit.ly/11nDnDY.)
Anusavice pleaded guilty in federal court in Bridgeport to charges related to the scam the same day the state's settlement was formalized in Hartford Superior Court and faces up to 15 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for Aug. 23.