According to FBI estimates, “there are at least 14,000 illegal sales operations stealing from American consumers every day.” Telemarketing fraud is a crime and everyone should learn how to protect themselves from these criminals. Telemarketing fraud takes place when scammers pose as legitimate charities, businesses, or other organization and call people with fake offers in an attempt to defraud them. These scammers use the phone to commit a number of different kinds of fraud. This can include: loan fraud, credit card fraud, sweepstakes and lottery fraud, magazine subscription and shopping club membership fraud.
The following are a number of tips on how to protect yourself from telemarketing fraud:
1. Know what to expect from a fraudulent call. They are good at what they do and know exactly what to say to trick someone into giving them their personal information. Ask for the name and contact information of the company they say they are representing. Do not give out any personal and financial information over the phone. If you are not sure if the call is legitimate and you are interested in the product or service, ask them to mail you written information.
2. If you are told you won a prize and the caller says you have to pay money to have the prize shipped or they want your banking information so they can wire you the money, hang up the phone and report the call to your government agency that handles telemarketing fraud or the police. You will never have to pay for a prize or pay to enter a contest.
3. If you do not want to be on the caller’s phone list, tell the caller to remove you from their telemarketing list. As well, you can get your name added to the ‘National Do Not Call’ registry. Telemarketers are required by law to search the ‘Do Not Call’ registry and not call those who do not want to be called.
4. Telemarketers are trained to try to bully you into making a purchase. If a caller says you have to act now, hang up the phone. Never mail money as the result of a telemarketing call. If they solicit you to buy a product, do not give them any credit card information. Do not do business with a company you have never heard of. You can search the internet about a company or contact the Better Business Bureau. Be wary of too-good-to-be true sales pitches. If the caller says you are a “guaranteed” winner, hang up.
5. Keep records of telemarketing calls. Make a record of the date and time of the telemarketing call. Include the name, address and phone number of the person or company. If you buy something, note the date of the transaction and the delivery date that is promised.
The best defense against telemarketing fraud is to learn to how to recognize a fraudulent call and then take a few protection steps to make sure the criminal is unsuccessful and will possibly get arrested after you report the call.
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