Telemarketing scams are plentiful, and it only requires two things: a phone call and a kind-hearted person to take the bait. These days, with caller ID, call screening, and cell phones, it might be surprising to find out that thousands of people wind up becoming victims of telephone telemarketing scams. Though specific categories of potential victims may sometimes be targeted, phone scams can happen to just about anyone.
Signs of a phone scam
It’s important to be on guard whenever someone calls your home or cell phone. Here are some clues that a caller is likely to be seeking a victim:
- The caller says you’ve won a prize.
- It’s imperative that you make a decision immediately.
- You’re asked to trust the caller.
- A “charity” asks for donations over the phone.
What if it’s not a scam?
Telemarketing is a valuable and legal way for businesses to reach prospective customers. It’s not always indicative of a scam. Consumers can learn about new, reputable companies via these types of calls, and they can take advantage of great deals and opportunities. So what can you do to protect yourself while still being open to new businesses?
- If the caller doesn’t specify they are making a sales call, and they don’t tell you the name of the business or what they’re selling, end the call. Telemarketers know that the law requires them to provide this basic information.
- Pay attention to whether or not you’re given time to ask questions, take down information, and make decisions. Feeling rushed can make you ignore red flags. Slow down and take control of the call.
- If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask. Take note of the answers and how willing the caller was in providing them.
- Don’t give out your personal information, even if the telemarketer says they are “confirming” it.
- Never pay a fee, whether it’s for shipping/handling or anything else, over the phone with a company you aren’t positive is legitimate.
- You should be able to call a company back, through the number found from the company’s main website, if you decide to purchase their services or goods.
You’ve been victimized. Now what?
- Scammers will reuse and sell your information so you can be targeted repeatedly. Be wary of future telemarketers.
- Report your situation to local law enforcement agencies.
- Remember that you’re not alone. Scammers use these tactics because they work.
Ted Lanzaro is the founder of Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation Services, a boutique forensic accounting firm specializing in fraud investigations, business valuations, economic damage calculations and litigation consulting related to financial matters. For more information about CPA Ted Lanzaro, visit his website at www.ct-forensic-accounting.com