Every year, thousands of people lose money to telemarketing scams (FTC) The money lost ranges from a few dollars to their entire life savings!
Telephone scammers are good at what they do. They say anything to cheat people out of their money. They might call and represent themselves as a company that you are familiar with or trust. Or they might run advertisements or send mailings that convince you to call them. Some seem very friendly, they will even call you by your first name, make small talk, and asking about your family. These are tactics to ease your suspicions.
Do you know what to do when a telemarketer calls your home? I’ll tell you what we do at my house… we don’t answer the phone. We, like nearly everyone else, have caller I.D. and if the phone number is not familiar, we simply let it go to voice mail, and then we decide if it’s someone we want to talk to. But what if you do answer the phone and find a telemarketer on the other end? Here are a few tips to help you deal with them:
When talking to a telemarketer ask yourself,
— Who’s calling…and why? 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.
— What’s the hurry? Fast talkers who use high pressure tactics could be hiding something. Most legitimate businesses will give you time and written information about an offer before asking you to commit to a purchase.
— If it’s free, why are they asking me to pay? If you have to pay, it’s a purchase — not a prize or a gift.
— Why am I “confirming” my account information — or giving it out at all? They’re trying to get you to say “okay” so they can claim you approved a charge.
Make sure that you:
— Resist pressure to make a decision immediately.
— Keep your credit card, checking account, or Social Security numbers to yourself. Don’t tell them to callers you don’t know.
— Don’t pay for something just because you’ll get a “free gift.”
— Get all information in writing before you agree to buy.
— Check out a charity before you give. Ask the caller to send you written information before you donate.
— If the offer is an investment, check with your state securities regulator to see if the offer is legitimate.
— Don’t send cash by messenger, overnight mail, or money transfer. No legitimate business will ask for only cash or money gram. Your money will be gone.
— Don’t agree to any offer for which you have to pay a “registration” or “shipping” fee to get a prize or a gift.
— Research unsolicited offers with your consumer protection agency or state Attorney General’s office before you agree to send money.
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.
The best way to avoid the chance of losing money to a telemarketing scam is in my opinion to “screen” the call and don’t talk to them.