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Beware of Fraudulent Telemarketers

If you have ever received a telephone call or a postcard announcing that you have won a prize, BEWARE!! It could be from a dishonest telemarketer out to get your money. These high pressure sales people may claim you are the winner of a prize and then:
  • may lure you into phony investment schemes,
  • may try to sell you expensive "promotional items", or
  • subscriptions to magazines.
They may cause you to lose a substantial amount of money.

Unfortunately, fraudulent telemarketers are very hard to track down. Because enforcement is so difficult, it is essential that consumers be aware of the common plays used by fraudulent telemarketers. The following suggests how you can detect telemarketing fraud and avoid becoming a victim.

10 Tip-Offs

Ten (10) tip-offs that the caller may be a crook are:

1. High Pressure Sales Tactics

The caller may realize you are not going to be an easy sale if you say you are not interested in the sales pitch. The caller may be reluctant to accept "no" as an answer and may use scare tactics and other high pressure sales tactics to get you to purchase whatever is being sold.

2. Insistence on an Immediate Decision

The caller may use the urgency pitch telling you that "the offer is about to expire" or "you must make a decision today." They always give a reason why the offer cannot wait.

3. The Offer Sounds Too Good to Be True

If it does, it probably is. Some callers may make statements that sound just reasonable enough to keep you from hanging up. Others may make statements you know to be true so that when they spring the big lie for what they're selling, you will be more likely to believe that, too.

4. A Request for your Credit Card Number or your Bank Account Number

A telemarketer may ask for this information for "identification" or for "verification" that you have won something. Whatever the ploy, once the swindler has your number, it is likely that unauthorized charges will appear on your account or a draft will be made on your bank account without your consent or knowledge. Never give account numbers to callers.

5. An Offer to Send Someone to your Home to Pick Up the Money or Some Other Method Such as Overnight Mail to Get your Funds More Quickly

This is likely to be part of their "urgency" pitch. It could be an effort to avoid mail fraud charges by bypassing postal authorities or simply a way of getting your money before you change your mind.

6. A Statement that Something is "Free" Followed by a Requirement that you Pay for Something

With swindlers, you generally have to pay in some way to get whatever it is said to be "free". The charge may be labeled as shipping and handling fees or a shipping charge. Whatever you pay, far exceeds the true value of the "free" item.

7. An Investment that's "Without Risk"

If there were any such thing as a risk-free investment with profits assured, the caller certainly wouldn't have to dial through the phone book to find investors.

8. Unwillingness to Provide Written Information or References that you can Contact

The caller may be reluctant to answer your questions and inquiries about the firm by phone and may tell you that printed material isn't available yet.

9. Unresponsiveness to Questions or Objections

10. The Telemarketer is not Registered with the Attorney General's Office as Required by Law

These consumer tips, as well as many other, can be found on the Office of the Attorney General's webpage @ under the heading "Protecting Consumers and Families".