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Every year thousands of people are losing money thanks to Telemarketing scams. Whether they are selling health insurance, security systems, a trip to Vegas, or the chance to win a free car – the pitch is the same. By remembering these 10 tips for handling suspicious calls, you can protect your hard earned cash.
- No matter what is said over the phone, never give out personal information. Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and checking account numbers are all valuable information to a con-artist. A scammer will say ANYTHING to get your information. Often you will hear that the caller just needs to “confirm” certain information, this is a commonly used trick. Always be conscious of what you say over the phone to a stranger.
- Take your time. Listen to everything that is said carefully. Fast talking salesmen should always be seen as suspicious. Most legitimate businesses will send written information, and let you decide if you would like the product then.
- Be careful of any “free gifts” or “free trips” that you have won. If you don’t remember entering any contests, this is especially true. Often times you will have to send a small fee for “Shipping” or “Confirmation” to win the prize. This is a scam that should not be trusted.
- A real insurance agent that you would want to work with, will NOT call you without contact being requested by yourself. If you get a cold call from someone claiming to sell insurance, hang up unless you requested information. If it happens again, get any information about who they claim to be, and report it to the Department of Insurance for your state.
- Do not blindly give to charities. Ask for mailed information about the charity to be sent out. Ask how much of your donation will go towards helping the Charity. Research the organization on your own time to confirm legitimacy. These scammers will try to play to your sympathies, always research and ask around before donating to such callers.
- Check the time. Laws allow telemarketers to call between 8AM and 9PM. A solicitor calling outside this time without request is in violation.
- The Federal Trade Commission has said: “The law says telemarketers must tell you it’s a sales call, the name of the seller and what they’re selling before they make their pitch. If you don’t hear this information, say “no thanks,” and get off the phone.” Always ask for more information.
- Be wary of offers to “assist” you recover money you have already lost. Callers saying they are law enforcement officers who will help you get your money back “for a fee” are scammers. Anyone offering to erase your debt should also be treated with a great deal of caution. Advance fee loans, payday loans, and credit card protection are very popular schemes, especially during a down economy.
- Many scammers sound friendly and very trustworthy. They may ask about your family or how you are enjoying the weather. Pleasantries serve to lower your guard, and are attempts to earn your trust. Remember that the telemarketer on the phone selling you pillow sheets or bogus insurance is a STRANGER.
- If you have repeat calls, reporting the caller is always a good option. Collect the phone number and any other information that you can remember. Especially report any caller who is rude or abusive, even if you already sent them money. They’ll want more. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit ftc.gov/complaint.
- HANG UP THE PHONE. The best protection from a suspicious caller, is to hang up the phone. If you feel threatened or pressured, you should end the call. No one is forcing you to listen to their pitch, and you shouldn’t have to.
Telemarketing scammers are getting craftier every day. Just like computer hackers, these groups will find more and more creative ways to steal your identity and money. These people are good at what they do.
Remember these few tips the next time you receive an odd phone call, and stay conscious of anything that is said during that call. Everyone receives a telemarketing call now and again, so we must all remember to be vigilant in the effort of protecting our information.