Those Friendly Telemarketers are NOT Your Friends

Telemarketers may seem friendly, but they can still be trying to steal from you! Beware!

Whether you live in a senior community, as I do, or in a typical middle-class neighborhood, you may frequently get called by telemarketers.  Some of these telemarketers seem to believe that people in senior communities are all too old and seedy to realize when we are being scammed.  However, most people today, even the elderly, are quite knowledgeable about crime and are aware of the dangers of telemarketing fraud. Unfortunately, the telemarketers realize that they only need a few victims in order to be successful.  If you wish to avoid becoming a victim of telemarketer fraud, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself.




Use the "Do Not Call" List


First, take advantage of the "Do Not Call" list by calling 1-888-382-1222.  This list prohibits anyone from calling you if they do not already have a business relationship with you .  Of course, people who are trying to commit a crime are not likely to stop calling you just because you are on a "Do Not Call" list.  However, if you tell them that you are on the Do Not Call list and they keep calling you, you can report them and they will have to pay large fines.  This will slow down some of the calls.


Do Not Have a Conversation with a Telemarketer


When you do answer your phone and realize there is a stranger at the other end of the call, practice saying "No."For example, you may simply state, "We do not answer surveys over the phone," "We do not donate to charities over the phone," or "We do not make purchases over the phone."Then, if the telemarketer does not politely end the call, you may have to simply hang up.Although many of us have been raised to feel uncomfortable hanging up on someone, remember that unscrupulous telemarketers will try to engage you in a conversation.Don't let them.


Do Not Buy from Unfamiliar Companies


If you do find it necessary to make purchases by phone, avoid buying products from unfamiliar companies.  If you haven't done business with the company before, check the companies out first through your local consumer protection agency, the Better Business Bureau, the state Attorney General's Office, or the Nationa lFraud Information Center.  Of course, not all crooked companies will have had a report filed against them.  These companies frequently change their name, address and phone numbers.  You may be one of the first people they contacted since their last change.  Therefore, what else can you do?


Do Not Let Yourself be Rushed


First, take your time before making a decision to buy a product from a new company.  Be especially cautious about giving out credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, your maiden name or your date of birth to anyone, especially if this is not a company that you regularly do business with, such as the phone company, your physician, your insurance carrier, etc.  In particular, do not give out any information to a phone solicitor who calls you.  You do not know if they are who they say they are.  Be suspicious and be careful.  Your bank, the IRS and your credit card company will NOT call you to ask for personal identifying information.


Comparison Shop


Do not let a salesperson rush you into making a decision.  Investigate the purchase.  Comparison shop.  Write down the salesperson's name, telephone number, street address, mailing address and business license number.  Even if you originated the contact with the company, because of an advertisement or recommendation, it is still wise to investigate the company through the Better Business Bureau before making a purchase with them.  The internet is also an excellent way to find out if other people have been unhappy dealing with this company or if others have had a bad experience with this product.  If you can buy the same product at the same price from a company you have successfully used before, you may want to continue to use the company you have used in the past.


Do Not Pay for a "Free Prize"


Don't pay for a "free prize."  This is one way that dishonest telemarketers will try to get you tricked into sending them money.  If the caller says that first you have to send them money in order to pay the taxes on your winnings, this is not true.  They are trying to scam you!


Do Not Believe a Sob Story from a Stranger


Do not let a telemarketer tell you a "sob story" about homeless people, police orphans, or starving children.  There are legitimate organizations where you can make contributions.  It is not wise to make a donation to a stranger over the phone.  They will want your credit card information, and you will have no idea how they are actually using the money.  In addition, do not allow a stranger to come to your home to pick up your donation  .They may be trying to get you to give cash, so they don't leave a paper trail.  Or, worse, they could be planning to rob you when they arrive.


Be Cautious on the Phone


In general, we can all protect ourselves from the dangers of telemarketing fraud by being as cautious over the phone as you would be with your purse or wallet.  Would you hand these items to a stranger without knowing anything about them?  Of course you wouldn't.  Use the same common sense approach when handling business by phone.


If you are interested in other articles to help protect you and your family, you may also want to read:


Avoid Charity Scams


Avoid Foreclosure Scams!


Buying Cheap Pet Drugs Online

Personal Safety Tips for Women

Preventing Death and Injury in Children

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