The Signs of a Telemarketing Scam

Telemarketing scams are becoming more prevalent than ever before, and the following are some of the most common scams that are investigated by the FBI. There are also tips to help prevent you from becoming a victim. To report cases of fraud, contact the nearest FBI office to your location.

Telemarketing Fraud

When you send money to people you do not know or give financial or personal information to an unknown caller, you will increase your chances of being a victim of fraud.

Here are some things you may hear before becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud:

  • "If you don't act now, this offer will not be good."
  • "You won a free vacation/gift/prize, but you must pay for the postage and handling."
  • "You must send a payment or give your bank account number, credit card or we can pick up a check for your payment." This is a high pressure tactic that you may hear before considering any offer.
  • "Don't worry about checking out our company with anyone, we are the real deal." This is often said so victims will not speak to anyone about their offer.
  • "You don't have to check references or look our company up online." Again, they will say this so you don't find out they are scammers.
  • "You cannot afford to miss this one-of-a-kind offer."

If you hear any of these or similar lines, simply say "no thank you," and then hang up.

Tips To Help You Avoid Telemarketing Fraud

It can be difficult to get your money back if you have fallen victim to a telemarketing scam.

Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim in the first place:

  • Don't buy anything from a company you are unfamiliar with.
  • Always ask for written information about any offer. If you receive a brochure about investments, ask a financial professional to look it over.
  • Always check with a local consumer protection agency if you are unfamiliar with a company that seems legitimate. The Better Business Bureau, National Fraud Information Center, state attorney general and other watchdog groups can help, too.
  • Ask for a salesperson's name, telephone number, business identity, mailing address and business license number before doing business with someone over the phone.
  • Before donating to a charity or making an investment, find out how much of the money is paid in commissions and how much actually goes to the charity or investment.
  • Before sending any money, ask yourself what proof you have that the solicitor will use the money in the manner you agreed on.
  • Never pay in advance for any services; only pay for them upon delivery.
  • Be cautious of companies that ask to send a messenger to your home to pick up money. What they are really doing is taking your money without leaving traces of who they are.
  • Take your time making a decision. A legitimate company will not pressure you.
  • Don't give money for anything "free." This includes taxes, which is illegal.
  • Before receiving your next sales pitch, make a decision about what information you are willing to give to the company.
  • Make sure that you talk over any investment opportunities with a friend, family member or financial advisor. This is especially the case if the opportunity comes to you from a telephone call.
  • Do not respond to any offer that you do not fully understand.
  • Do not send money or other personal information to an unfamiliar company or unknown individual. This includes information such as a credit card number, bank account number, social security number or date of birth.
  • Remember, it is legal for companies to share your personal information with other companies unless you specifically tell them not to.
  • If you have been a victim of a scam in the past, you should be wary of those who call to help you recover those loses. In reality, they are often setting you up to be a victim for the second time.
  • If you have information about any scam, make sure to report it quickly to your local or state law enforcement agency. You can also report this to the FBI.