When to Ditch the Cold Call Pitch
While many telephone sales calls are made on
behalf of legitimate organizations offering bona fide products and services,
some unsolicited phone sales calls can be frauds. That’s why the Federal
Trade Commission encourages you to listen carefully when you get a "cold
Fraudulent telemarketers may get your phone
number from a telephone directory, mailing list, or "sucker list," a
directory of consumers who have already lost money to fraudulent prize
promotions or merchandise sales. Sucker lists include names, addresses,
phone numbers – even how much money you may have spent on telemarketing
scams. Unscrupulous promoters buy and sell sucker lists on the theory that
consumers who have been deceived once are easy prey for additional scams.
According to FTC officials, credit card loss
protection offers and advance fee loan offers are especially popular pitches
for fraudulent telemarketers.
Credit Card Loss Protection Offers
The FTC says that to get people to
buy worthless credit card loss protection offers, telephone scam artists
- you’ll be liable for all unauthorized
charges on your credit card account;
- you need the protection because computer
hackers can access your credit card number and charge thousands of dollars
on your credit card account;
- a computer bug could make it easy for
thieves to place unauthorized charges on your credit card account; and
- they’re from the “security department” and
want to activate the protection feature on your credit card.
But, the consumer protection agency says,
these fraudsters are simply trying to exploit economic uncertainty. The
FTC’s consumer advice: Remember that federal law limits your liability for
unauthorized changes to $50, and ditch the pitch for credit card loss
protection. If you didn’t authorize a charge, don’t pay it. Follow your
credit card issuer’s procedures for disputing charges you haven’t
Advance Fee Loan Offers
Fraudulent telemarketers virtually “guarantee” that you will get a loan,
regardless of your credit history, but you have to pay a fee first.
A telemarketer who asks – or
receives payment – for the promise of an loan is
breaking the law.
The FTC says legitimate guaranteed offers of
credit don’t require payments up front. Although legitimate lenders may
require you to pay application, appraisal or credit report fees, these fees
seldom are necessary before the lender is identified and the application
What’s more, says the FTC, these fees are
paid to the lender, not the person who is arranging the “guaranteed” loan.
Their consumer counsel: Don’t pay for a promise, and remember that it’s
against the law for companies doing business by phone to promise you a loan
and ask you to pay for it before they deliver.
You may not want to ditch all cold calls, but
there are ways to spot those that spell
- High pressure sales tactics. Legitimate
businesses respect the fact that you’re not interested.
- Telemarketers who ignore your previous
requests not to be called. They’re breaking the law.
- That the offer is a great "opportunity."
See it for yourself by asking for written information about the product or
service that’s being pitched. Don’t talk with a salesperson if it’s not
convenient for you. A reputable salesperson should be willing to call you
back at a time you choose.
- A push for immediate payment. Don’t send
money – cash, check, or money order – by courier, overnight delivery, or
wire to anyone who insists on immediate payment.
- A caller who insists on getting your
personal information. Keep information about your bank accounts and credit
cards to yourself – unless you know who you’re dealing with.
- A telemarketer who calls before 8 a.m. or
after 9 p.m. It’s against the law, and a sure tip off to a rip-off.
The FTC works for the consumer to
prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and
avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues, visit
call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related
Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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