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12/28/09

Some Telemarketing scams to avoid and tips of how turn them in



The economic decline has brought the worst in all types of scammers, especially telemarketing scams. Anywhere from over charging for products promised over the phone to out right theft. Surprisingly a not so new old telemarketing scam has come back but with a new twist.

Example one: Someone from a foreign country calls you and claims you won the lottery there. How exciting for you, you money troubles are over right? Not so fast. This is a take from the ever so famous lottery email scam. You won the lottery in Nigeria, England, Canada, Jamaica but in order to process the claim you the lucky recipient needs to send an x amount of money via western union to pay for processing the winning claim. Only this time it's over the phone and the scammers are targeting older people. Same deal different way of delivering the message.

The Federal Trade commission in May of 2009 reported an uptick in fraudulent telemarketing calls from Jamaica concerning fake foreign lottery winnings. Why do foreign fraudsters target the US? Simple, they think they can get away with it. It's a scam that happens outside of the US so can't be tracked or prosecuted by the victim of the US government, right? Not so fast. The US government has been working with the Jamaican government on a project called JOLT (Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing). They've been sharing information and evidence to shut down these operations. If only other countries were so willing to work with the US to help stop the fraud that is done to US citizens.

Example Two: You get a call from your credit card security department saying they are contacting you to confirm if you recently made a charge on your card. They say the amount you say no you didn't charge that, they say they will reverse the charge but they need to confirm the 3 or 4 digit security code on the back of your card. They may even sound reassuring like don't worry we already have your contact information and your credit card number but we need to confirm that you still have possession of the card.

These scammers already have your credit card information but they need the security code to start using your card. Don't give it. Don't confirm anything, as a matter of fact ask them for a number to call them back at. Then call the 1-800 number on your card not the one they gave you and tell your credit card company. Have your card flagged or even canceled.

Telemarketing scams don't just stop at fake lottery winnings or fake security calls. There are fake prizes, fake charities, fake money recovery companies, fake products for sale, fake services, fake memberships, false claims of receiving discounts for prescriptions the list can go on. Take some of these companies recently busted for telemarketing fraud:

DataCom Marketing Inc. based in Canada contacted US and Canadian business owners claiming they were updating business information for their directory and they had previously done business with someone in the past from that office. A few weeks later the business would get a bill for a directory they never ordered and would never see.

CSTR Solutions Inc. and Genesis Capital Management based in Orlando, Florida — and a Tacoma, Wash.-based firm, Mutual Consolidated Savings. Making false claims to consumers about lowering their credit card interest rates for a fee. Refusing to refund fees charged when the interest rates were not lowered and making false claims of being affiliated with credit card companies.

Landmark Publishing Group, Grant Writers Institute, Apex Holdings International and Real Estate Buyers Financial Network based in Kansas. Called consumers offering to sell them various government grant books for $69 along with the secrets to get the grants. The grants listed in the books never existed.


We all the know the easiest way to avoid telemarketing scams is to hang up. But here are some tips to try and protect yourself even more.


1. Questions. A scammer gets nervous when you start asking questions. So, don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you want. Some questions to ask: What is the name of the company? What is the address of the company? Who is the president/CEO/Owner of the company? If they get rude hang up.

2. Lottery scam? Ask some probing question. Like what providence did you win the lottery in? What is the name of the lottery commission? If they provide any western union information write it down and then turn them in to the Federal Trade Commission, also call up Western Union let them know to flag that information as being used by scammers. Website for the FTC www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
website for Western Union www.westernunion.com or call Western Union to let them know 1-800-325-6000.

3. Fake charity? Ask what state they are in? What is the address of the charity? If they ask why say so you can send a money order instead or tell them straight out you are going to the Better Business Bureau web site to check them out. Even though scammer on the other end will say they are legit never take them at their word and if they get nasty or less then friendly hang up and contact your Attorney Generals office with the information you do have.

4. Offering fake services, fake products, or a prize that needs your credit card verification to receive? Never give your credit card information out to anyone you don't know. This cannot be stressed enough.

5. Most foreign telemarketing calls will appear on your caller ID as blocked or as coming from your area code don't be fooled. There is internet phone software out which allows people to make phone calls over the internet and identify themselves as being within an area code they are no where near. If the person on the other end is hesitant to give out information, gives out address information that doesn't match the area code they are calling from or says they can only take money via western union or credit card they are a scam, hang up.

6. Telemarketing Phishing attempts. Telemarketer calls up and starts asking you to verify your ID. Don't give it, the only time you should be giving any personal information over the phone is if you initiated the phone call and you know the person or business you are calling.

7. If at anytime you become uncomfortable hang up the phone. Don't bother to say goodbye or I have to go, that is only a prompt for them to keep you on the phone. Just hang up and don't answer if they call back.

8. You get a call from a company you've never heard of wanting to confirm your order. They start asking you questions. Interrupt them if the telemarketer continues to talk hang up. If they ask to confirm your credit card tell them to cancel the order if they claim they need to confirm your credit card number to cancel the order don't give it to them. Tell them since they can't confirm the order then they should not send it therefore it will be canceled. If they continue to call you ask for the company name, address and phone number to call. But never give them any information don't confirm your name, address, or phone number. Turn them into the Attorney Generals office in your state or the Federal Trade Commission.

9. Fake services? Ask for the offer in writing. Anyone company who is legit will send their offer in writing.

10. Never say "Yes" during a telemarketing call to any question asked to you. That answer can be used as voice confirmation for anything from changing your phone service without your knowledge or signing up for a membership you never knew about.

11. Don't think turning information into the authorities is enough? Well then go on the internet look them up. Turn their information over to sites like mine or websites like www.ripoff.com. The more outlets that get the word out the quicker these scammers have to go hide somewhere else.

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