Phone Scam

  • Reporter

Did you know every year, thousands of people lose their money to telephone scams? It ranges from something very little like a few bucks to their life savings. Imagine losing your life savings, it could ruin you and your family. Scammers are very smart and they will say anything just to cheat money from you. They may try to get personal and call you by your first name and asking about your family like they genuinely care. They may claim to be working for a company you dealt with and trust. Some may even spend money to put out advertisement in mail to convince you to call them instead. How smart is that? Get you to call them so half the battle is won already. If you get a call from someone you don’t know and they are trying to sell you something, say no thank you and hang up. They are trained to pressure you and ask you to give out your personal information such as credit card or social security numbers. If you get a call like that you can be very certain it is a scam!

Be caution about the signs of scams. Just because they direct you to a legitimate looking website doesn’t mean that is who they are. These criminals are very smart and use tactics to make you believe that they are legitimate by creating websites that are fake or pretending to be someone else.

Here are a few red flags to help you spot telemarketing scams. If you hear a line that sounds like this, say "no, thank you," hang up, and file a complaint with the FTC:

  • You've been specially selected (for this offer).
  • You'll get a free bonus if you buy our product.
  • You've won one of five valuable prizes.
  • You've won big money in a foreign lottery.
  • This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else.
  • You have to make up your mind right away.
  • You trust me, right?
  • You don't need to check our company with anyone.
  • We'll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.

Often they try to get you by offering you such an incredible deal. Examples include:

  • Travel Packages. “Free” or “low cost” vacations can end up cost­ing a bundle in hidden costs. Some of these vacations never take place, even after you’ve paid.
  • Credit and loans. Advance fee loans, payday loans, credit card protection,and offers to lower your credit card interest rates are very popular schemes, especially during a down economy.
  • Sham or exaggerated business and investment opportunities. Promoters of these have made millions of dollars. Scammers rely on the fact that business and investing can be complicated and that most people don’t research the investment.
  • Charitable causes. Urgent requests for recent disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone.
  • High-stakes foreign lotteries. These pitches are against the law, which prohibits the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail. What’s more, you may never see a ticket.
  • Extended car warranties. Scammers find out what kind of car you drive, and when you bought it so they can urge you to buy overpriced — or worthless — plans.
  • “Free” trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products — sometimes lots of products — which can cost you lots of money because they bill you every month until you cancel.

When you get a call from 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 hang up.
  • What’s the hurry?Fast talkers who use high pressure tactics could be hiding something. Take your time. 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?Question fees you need to pay to redeem a prize or gift. Free is free. If you have to pay, it's a purchase — not a prize or a gift and most certainly not free as they claimed.
  • Why am I “confirming” my account information— or giving it out? Some callers have your billing information before they call you. They’re trying to get you to say “okay” so they can claim you approved a charge.
  • What time is it?The law allows telemarketers to call only between 8 am and 9 pm. A seller calling earlier or later is ignoring the law.
  • Do I want more calls like this one?If you don’t want a business to call you again, say so and register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. If they call back, they’re breaking the law.

If it is too good to be true, likely it is a scam. You should consult a few friends who can give you a second opinion before jumping into anything. If you decide to, get all the information in writing and do your due diligent/homework before committing.