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- Mostly telephone sales calls are made by legitimate businesses promoting legitimate products or services. But where honest firms look for new customers, so do scammers. Phone fraud is a multi-billion dollar business involving the sale of everything from bad or nonexistent investments to the selling misrepresented products and services. If you have a telephone you are a prospect, becoming a victim is large up to you.
- There is no way to determine positively if a sales call is legitimate simply by talking to someone on the phone. No matter what or how many questions you ask, skilled scammers have practiced answers. That's why sales calls should be treated with caution. People or companies that are unknown to you should be checked out before you buy or invest. Legitimate callers have nothing to hide.
- Phone scammers are likely to know more about you than you realize. Depending on where they got your name in the first place, they may know your age and income, health and hobbies, occupation and marginal status, education, the home you live in, what magazines you read, and whether you've bought by phone in the past. Even if your name came from the phone book, telephone con men (and women) assume that, like most people, you would be interested in having more income, that you're receptive to a bargain, that you are basically sympathetic to people in need, and that you are associated to be discourteous to someone on the phone. As admirable as such characteristics may be, they help make the scammer's job easier. Scammers also exploit less admirable characteristics, such as greed.
- Fraudulent telemarketers have one thing in common: They are skilled liars and experts at the verbal 'snow job'. Their success depends on it. Many are trained to "say whatever it takes" by operators of the "boiler rooms" where they work at rows of phone desks making hundreds of repetitious calls, hour after hour. The first words uttered by most victims of phone fraud are, "the caller sounded so believable ..."
- Perpetrators of phone fraud are extremely good at sounding as though they represent legitimate businesses. They offer investments, sell subscriptions, provide products for homes and offices, promote travel and vacation plans, describe employment opportunities, solicit pledges, and the list goes on. Never assume you'll "know a phone scare when you hear one." Even if you've read stories of the kinds of schemes most commonly used, innovative scammers constantly devise new ones.
- The motto of telemarketer scammers is, "just give us a few good 'mooches,'" one of the terms that they use to describe their victims. Even though most victims are normally intelligent and prudent people, even the scammers express amazement at how many people "seem to keep their cheque books by the phone!" Sadly, some families part with savings that they worked years to accumulate on the basis of little more than a 15-minute phone conversation - less time than they're spending considering the purchase of a household appliance.
- The person who "initiates" the phone call may be you. It's not uncommon for phone crooks to use direct mailings and advertise in reputable publications to encourage prospects to make the initial contact. It's another way swindlers imitate the perfectly acceptable marketing practices of legitimate businesses. So, just because you may have written or phoned for "additional information" about an investment, product, or service does not mean you should be any less cautious about buying by phone from someone you do not know.
- Victims of a phone scam almost never get their money back - or, at best, no more than a few cents on the dollar. Permanent efforts of law enforcement and regulatory agencies to provide what help they can to victims, scammers generally do the same thing other people do when they get money - they spend it!
- Before you call any number back you can do a quick reverse phone number lookup and have more information about the telemarketer than they have on you.
With broadband internet services and our cordless phones, it is actually possible to run a background check with a reverse phone number lookup while the swindlers are still on the telephone to you.