Fraudulent Telemarketers, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
Public Services II
Consumer Issues

Fraudulent Telemarketers
When you receive an unsolicited telephone call, if you accept these in the first place, there are some major warning signs that the call might be a fraudulent attempt to separate you from your money, usually by getting you to give over personal or financial information. In many cases, the caller excitedly stresses that you have to “act now” or else lose the opportunity forever. In others, the caller tells you that you have won a gift or prize, perhaps a vacation, and only need to pay shipping, taxes, or a “handling charge.” Don’t believe it.

Be especially wary of the caller insists you do not need detailed information about the company involved, or they cannot give references. Legitimate businesses are always willing to tell you who they really are. Be similarly suspicious if the caller says he or she represents the police, or a governmental agency. Any request for you to wire or send money by messenger is almost always fraudulent.

If you suspect a fraudulent call, ask for an offer in writing by mail. This usually ends the matter and the thief quickly gets off the line. Keep in mind, however, that mail offers might be just as fraudulent. If you truly think the offer is legitimate, protect yourself anyhow by taking your time and refusing to make a quick decision. Do not be afraid of seeming to be impolite by telling a telephone solicitor “not now.”

Ultimately, the best policy is to never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to callers, whatever they might promise. Remember, these criminals are highly skilled, and usually intend to use your personal information for full-scale identity theft.

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