How can you tell the difference between a legitimate telemarketing call and a scam? If you think it's difficult, you're not alone. Three-quarters of the adults recently surveyed by Consumer Federation of America said that they thought it was hard for most consumers to tell. And while 9 in 10 said that they were concerned about the possibility of fraud when they get telemarketing calls from companies they haven't done business with before, many did not know their basic telemarketing rights. Knowing your rights can help you spot a scammer.
For instance, is a company that you don't have a relationship with calling you to try to sell you something even though you put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry? Is it a prerecorded sales pitch when you never gave the company written permission to make that kind of robocall to you? Why doesn't the company's number show on your Caller ID? If you know what telemarketers are supposed to do and they seem to be violating your rights, STOP! Legitimate companies usually follow the rules, scammers don't.
Other danger signs of telemarketing fraud are also easy to spot, once you know what to look for. High-pressure sales tactics, requests for payment to claim a prize, promises that you can make easy money working at home, guarantees of big returns on investments with little or no risk, and offers to settle your debts, help you get a loan, save your home from foreclosure, fix your credit record or recover money you've lost to scammers - if you pay the fee in advance - are all common clues. Another is if the telemarketer will only accept payment made with a money transfer service or a prepaid card product.
To help you protect yourself from telemarketing fraud, Consumer Federation provides tips, a guide to your telemarketing rights, and a funny video at www.consumerfed.org/fraud. Remember, money sent to scammers is often lost for good. So don't fall for fraud, and report violations of your telemarketing rights to help stop scammers.