Telemarketing scammers are relentless in pursuit of your money. With consumer losses estimated at nearly $500 million a year, scammers are applying all means of technology at their disposal to trick victims into opening their wallets. Very often victims are targeted based on information scammers pick up through social media or identity theft. The number of different scams are too numerous to list here, but they all include one or more of the following tactics:
- Exerting pressure to act immediately on an opportunity.
- Promising easy money with a work-at-home opportunity.
- Offering to fix your credit, settle your debts, rescue your home from foreclosure, or facilitate a loan – all for a fee paid in advance.
- Guaranteeing big returns on an investment with little or no risk.
- Offering a prize as part of sales pitch with no purchase necessary.
- Requesting payment by money transfer, prepaid cards or gift cards.
With the advanced technology and sophisticated methods employed by telemarketing scammers today, it’s often difficult to tell the scammers from legitimate callers. You can protect yourself by strictly adhering to the following rules:
- Hang up! If you don’t recognize a phone number on your caller ID, don’t answer.
- If you take a call and, if any of the danger signs listed above emerge, hang up.
- Be leery of caller ID. Scammers are able to make their phone numbers look like a familiar number.
- Never, ever agree to pay anyone or provide any sensitive information over the phone unless it is through a call you initiate to a trusted person or business.
- If a caller claims to be from the IRS, Social Security, or Medicare, hang up. These government agencies don’t initiate calls.
If you think you’ve talked with a scammer on the phone, report the call to the FTC at donotcall.gov.