HOW TO TELL IF YOU ARE THE TARGET OF A PHONE SCAM

April19copwebEvery year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams — from a few dollars to their life savings.

Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money. Some seem very friendly, calling you by your first name, making small talk, and asking about your family. They may claim to work for a company you trust, or they may send mail or place ads to convince you to call them.

If you get a call from someone you don’t know who is trying to sell you something you hadn’t planned to buy, say “No thanks.” And if they pressure you about giving up personal information — like your credit card or Social Security number — it’s a scam. Hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. Often, scammers who operate by phone don’t want to give you time to think about their pitch; they just want you to say “yes.” But some are so cunning that, even if you ask for more information, they seem happy to comply. They may direct you to a website or otherwise send information featuring “satisfied customers.” These customers, known as shills, are likely as fake as their praise for the company.

Here are a few red flags to help you spot telemarketing scams. If you hear a line that sounds like this, say “no, thank you,” hang up, and file a complaint with the FTC

●●  You’ve been specially selected (for this offer).

●●  You’ll get a free bonus if you buy our product.

●●  You’ve won one of five valuable prizes.

●●  You’ve won big money in a foreign lottery.

●●  This investment is low risk and provides a higher return    than you can get anywhere else.

●●  You have to make up your mind right away.

●●  You trust me, right?

●●  You don’t need to check our company with anyone.

●●  We’ll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.

Scammers use exaggerated — or even fake — prizes, products or services as bait. Some may call you, but others will use mail, texts, or ads to get you to call them for more details. Here are a few examples of “offers” you might get:

- Travel packages.

- Credit and loans.

- Sham or exaggerated business and investment opportunities.

- Charitable causes. Urgent requests for recent disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone.

- High-stakes foreign lotteries. These pitches are against the law, which prohibits the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail.

- Extended car warranties.

- “Free” trial offers.

How to Handle an Unexpected Sales Call

Questions to Ask

When you get a call from a telemarketer, ask yourself:

-  Who’s calling… and why? Ask for the name of the seller and what they’re selling before they make their pitch. The law says telemarketers must tell you it’s a sales call.

-  What’s the hurry? Fast talkers who use high-pressure tactics could be hiding something. Take your time.

-  If it’s free, why are they asking me to pay?

-  Why am I “confirming” my account information — or giving it out? Some callers have your billing information before they call you. They’re trying to get you to say “okay” so they can claim you approved a charge.

-  What time is it? The law allows telemarketers to call only between 8 am and 9 pm. A seller calling earlier or later is ignoring the law.

-   Do I want more calls like this one? If you don’t want a business to call you again, say so and register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. If they call back, they’re breaking the law.

NEW CREDIT CARD SCAM

Consumers should beware of scammers trying to steal personal information as some credit card companies issue new "tap-to-pay" cards.In the New Credit Card Scam, fraudsters contact people who may be receiving the new cards and claim to be from the issuing company. The crooks tell their victims they must provide personal or financial information to activate the cards. Then, the scammers use the information to commit identity theft. Credit card companies typically include a phone number or website for new card activation and won’t call or email asking for personal information. TIPS: •Don’t provide personal or financial information through an unsolicited call or email. •Don’t click on a link in an email message unless you’re sure the source is legitimate. •If in doubt about activating a new credit card, contact the financial institution that issued the card.
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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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