Watch for fraud flags
The 6 "red flags" of fraud:
A promise that you can win money, make money, or borrow money easily;
A demand that you act immediately or else miss out on this "great opportunity";
A refusal to send you written information before you agree to buy or donate;
An attempt to scare you into buying something;
Insistence that you wire money or have a courier pick up your payment; and,
A refusal to stop calling after you’ve asked not to be called again.
The common thread that runs through all telemarketing scams is the demand for payment upfront. People need to know that:
It’s illegal for companies that operate contests or sweepstakes to ask you to pay to enter or claim your prize or even to suggest that your chances of winning will improve if you buy something; it’s illegal for telemarketers to ask for a fee upfront to help you get a loan if they guarantee or strongly imply that the loans will be made;
There is no reason to give your credit card number or bank account number to a telemarketer unless you are actually making a payment with that account; and, if you have to pay first before getting detailed information about the offer, it’s probably a scam.
The first step in helping people who may be targets is to convince them that fraudulent telemarketers are hardened criminals who don’t care about the pain they cause when they steal someone’s life savings. Once people understand that illegal telemarketing is a serious crime—punishable by heavy fines and long prison sentences—they are more likely to hang up and report the fraud to law enforcement authorities. They can help catch the crooks and put them in jail—where they belong.
Why it’s so hard:
It’s difficult to tell whether someone is legitimate. Good salespeople are convincing, but so are crooks. They use many of the same sales tactics—being friendly, getting people excited, creating a sense of urgency;
People, and particularly seniors, tend to be trusting. Since they have difficulty imagining that some telemarketers are criminals, they’re more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt;
It’s easy to wear people down. Seniors are targeted relentlessly—some get more than 20 calls a day from scam artists. They may also receive dozens of mailings every week asking them to call about sweepstakes and other offers;
We all want to believe. Who doesn’t want to win a valuable prize, take a free trip, or strike it rich on an investment? People want to believe that it’s their lucky day, and may react with anger or suspicion when others question their optimism; and,
It’s hard to hang up. Many seniors feel that it’s impolite to hang up on people. Swindlers know how to take control of the conversation and are prepared to tell any lies necessary to keep potential victims on the phone.
Remember, though, telemarketers are supposed to take you off their lists if you ask them to. You can always say to anyone at anytime: "Haven’t I asked you to take me off your list?"
Courtesy RB NEWSJournal
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