Telemarketing Scams

Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams.  Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money.  Some seem very friendly, calling you by your first name, making small talk and asking about your family.  They may claim to work for a company you trust, or they may send mail or place ads to convince you to call them.

Report this scam to:

Federal Trade Commission at:  www.ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-382-4357.

Signs of a  Telemarketing Scam:

  • Scare tactics-often, the caller poses as a governmental agency official such as an IRS agent or law enforcement officer and advises the victim they have an outstanding debt or arrest warrant.  The caller tells the victim to send a certain amount of money immediately to cover the debt or pay a fine, or be arrested, have a lien placed against the home or face other serious actions.  The criminal's goal is to obtain funds directly from the victim.
  • Attractive offers-In this type of scam, the caller generally wants the victim's payment card or an account number, although the caller may also be after direct payments.  The offer may be for anything from a free vacation to a government grant, or from a reduction in the victim's mortgage or credit card interest rate.  In any case, the caller insists the victim pay a handling fee.  Sometimes the caller asks questions about the victim's banking accounts to make sure the victim "qualifies" for the special offer.  With the information obtained, the fraudsters generate payment transactions or use the information for future identity theft efforts.
  • High-pressure techniques-Most scams involve high-pressure techniques; the criminals want to create a sense of urgency to get the victim to act quickly, without thinking.  A common scenario is when the caller tells the victim that his or her bank account or payment card has been frozen because of suspicious activity and then urges the victim to provide sensitive account information to restore the account to normal status.  The caller can then use the information the victim has provided to initiate fraudulent transactions or identity theft.
  • Information-gathering-A criminal may call to get "additional" information about a customer to go into an identity profile that the criminal can use later in committing an identity theft crime.  Often the criminal has already gathered some information about the targeted victim through social media or public records to weave into a cover story about why they are requesting the information to make the story more believable.

 

Safety Tips:

  • Hang up the phone.
  • Do not give out any personal information such as your credit card number, social security number or your bank account information.
  • Resist pressure to make a decision immediately.
  • Don't pay for something just because you'll get a "free gift".
  • Check out a charity before you give.
  • Don't send cash by messenger, overnight mail or money transfer.
  • 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 offers with your consumer protection agency or state Attorney General's office before you agree to send money.
  • Beware of offers to "help" you recover money you have already lost for a fee.