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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 verification.'

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.

Travel packages:

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.

Investments:

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 identity.

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.

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