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June 7, 2005 > Protecting yourself against phone scams

Protecting yourself against phone scams

by Fremont Police Department

Common Telemarketing Or Telephone Scams


  • Prize Offers: In order to obtain the "free" prize, there is a condition. You must attend a sales presentation, buy something, or give a credit card number. The prizes are usually not worth the time or money spent.

  • Sweepstakes Prize Winner: The caller says you are the sweepstakes grand prize-winner. To receive the prize, winners must pay the tax. The prizes will be shipped when the tax payment is received. The caller may call frequently, be insistent, or threaten to report non-payment of the tax to the IRS, in order to get the victim to send money to an address--- usually a P.O. Box or out of state.

  • Travel Packages: "Free" or "low cost" vacation packages can have hidden costs. The vacation may offer a low-cost week's stay in an exotic resort, but does not cover the costly airfare. The vacation may have restrictive dates and times for use making it impossible to schedule, causing you to lose your deposit. In order to keep from losing the deposit, you may be talked into a more expensive vacation package.

  • Vitamins & Health Products: These offers may include a "prize offer" to entice you to buy an overpriced product that may not be of good quality or may not meet the standard for active ingredients.

  • Investments: Schemes that promise high returns with little or no risk. These "get rich quick" schemes can involve all types of investments: land deals, coins, gemstones, gold, silver, rare art pieces, etc. Generally, these items are not worth the money invested. In some cases, victims have received fraudulent deeds to non-existent property or cheap imitation products.

  • Charities: Often callers use names that sound similar to well known, established organizations. However, the caller is not willing to provide written information and is not willing to wait for a donation, until you have checked out the organization with consumer or watchdog agencies.

  • Recovery Scams:
    If you have been a victim to any telephone/telemarketing scam, often they call again. This time the caller says they can help you recoup your loss or get your money back. Be wary, even law enforcement and government officials cannot guarantee the return of your money.

  • 900 Telephone Numbers: Be aware that a 900 telephone number charges a fee by the minute and the caller must pay this fee. Victims are told they won a prize, and they must call the 900 number to collect. Some cons used a toll free 800 number with an answering message referring people to a 900 number.



Spotting a Phone Scam

  • You must act now or the offer won't be good.

  • You won a "free" gift, vacation, or prize and you must pay for "postage & handling" or other charges.

  • You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by a courier before you have a chance to think about the offer or check with any consumer groups.

  • You are told you do not need to check with the Better Business Bureau, other organizations, or an attorney.

  • The caller is unable to provide information that allows you to verify the organization: the business license number or non-profit tax ID number, the organization's address and/or the main headquarters.



Request in writing: The organization's address, a business license number or a Non-profit Tax ID number, and written information regarding the offer, prize, etc.

Consumer Agencies:

  • National Fraud Information Center
    1-800-876-7060
    M-F, 9a.m. - 5:30p.m. EST
    http://www.fraud.org..

  • Call For Action, Inc.
    3400 Idaho Ave., NW Ste 101
    Washington, DC 20016
    202-537-0585

  • National Charities Info Bureau
    19 Union Square West
    York, NY 10003-3395
    212-929-6300


Also check with the Better Business Bureau, the State Attorney General or other consumer groups.
To Stop Telephone Sales
To stop unwanted telephone sales calls by many national marketers, send your name, address, and telephone number to:


Direct Marketing Association
Telephone Preference Service
P.O. Box 9014
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014

You have the right to ask telephone solicitors not to call you again, if they do you may take action in Small Claims Court.


For More Information:

  • Federal Trade Commission
    Correspondence Branch
    6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20580
    (202) 326-2222
    TDD: (202) 326-2502
    www.ftc.gov.

    Local address:
    Federal Trade Commission
    901 Market Street, Suite 570
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 356-5270

 
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