How to Avoid Telemarketing Scams
SCAMS: SPECIAL INVESTIGATION SERIES
By David McDonough
Monday, November 22, 2004; 7:40pm EST
How to Avoid Telemarketing Scams
Offers of amazing investments and too-good-to-be-true offers are
warning signs of telephone fraud. According to the Federal Trade
Commission, telemarketing fraud now costs Americans at least $40
billion a year.
Some of the most common scams include:
Prize offers: The National Fraud Information Center lists prize or
sweepstakes offers as the number one telemarketing scam. Usually you
have to do something to get your free prize, such as buy products
you don't really want or give your credit card number, 'just for
Cross-border telephone calls:
You receive a message on your voice mail or answering machine urging
you to call a number in the 809 or other unfamiliar area code. The
call may claim to concern an overdue account or a sick relative. In
reality, the call is a fraud. You're being asked to call a
pay-per-call service in the Caribbean, similar to a 900 number, with
charges that could exceed $25.
Free or low cost vacations can end up costing you a bundle. Often
the promoted travel deal requires you to pay hidden charges for
either an expensive hotel room or for the full cost of travel for
the second person.
Consumers lose millions of dollars to telemarketed 'get rich quick'
schemes that involve gemstones, rare coins, oil and gas leases,
interactive TV licenses and other business opportunities.
Recovery room ploys:
If you've fallen prey to any of the above scams, you could get a
call promising to get back or 'recover' the money you've already
lost. Of course, this comes at a price.
How to identify telephone fraud
Beware, fraudulent telemarketers often feed their potential victims
the same lines. If you hear one of the following messages the best
thing to do is say 'no thank you' and end the call.
Act Now ' this offer is only good for a limited time
You must send money, offer a credit card or bank account number
He/she offers to have someone pick up the payment from your home
You've won a free prize or trip, all you need to do is take care of
the 'postage and handling,' or other miscellaneous charges
How to avoid a telemarketing scam
Do not buy from an unfamiliar company ' If you are unfamiliar with
the company or organization, ask that they send you information
about the products or services it offers. The Attorney General's
Office and the Better Business Bureau are great resources to check a
company's licensing and consumer complaint record.
Do not be pressured into a decision ' Even if the offer being
presented to you has a time limit, don't give in to the
high-pressure tactic unless you are comfortable with the company and
the offer. If you accept an offer because it is a 'One time deal' or
your 'Last chance,' you are most likely to be left holding a bill.
Do not give out your credit card, social security number, checking
account number or other personal information to unfamiliar
companies. You would be surprised how little information scam
artists need to make unauthorized charges or alter your financial
Do put your name on the 'do not call' list to prevent a telemarketer
from calling you again. Go to this link http://www.donotcall.gov/ to
add your number to the National do not call list.
Do keep a list of a company's name and the date you requested to be
put on its 'do not call' list. Keep a list of those names and report
telemarketers that continue to call you.
Do exercise your right to end a conversation with an individual
representing an unfamiliar company or using pushy tactics to sell
you a service or product.
Who to call for help:
If an offer sounds suspicious, or if you have been victimized by a
fraudulent telemarketer, there are resources available to help you.
National Fraud Information Center 1-800-876-7060 (toll free)
Federal Communications Commission 1-888-225-5322 (toll free)
Federal Trade Commission 1-877-382-4357 (toll free)
About the Author
Webmaster and owner of TheLowestRates.Com, LLC Your residential long
distance phone service internet and travel source.