Do business with those you know and trust. If you aren't familiar with the company, ask for information to be sent to you about the products or services it's offering. A legitimate company will be glad to provide that information, a fraudulent marketer won't.
Understand the offer. Be sure you know who and where the company is and how to reach it, what is being sold, the total price, the delivery date, the return and cancellation policy, and the terms of any guarantee. If that information isn't in a catalogue or other materials that you have, get it in writing from the company.
Check out the company's track record. Ask your state or local consumer protection agency if the company has to be licensed or registered, and with whom, and check to see if it is. You can also ask consumer agencies and the Better Business Bureau in your area about the company's complaint record. But keep in mind that some companies open and shut quickly, so lack of a complaint record is no guarantee that a telemarketer is legitimate.
Be careful to whom you give your financial or other personal information. Don't provide your bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security number or other personal information unless you know the company is legitimate and the information is necessary for the transaction. Even with partial information, con artists can make unauthorized charges, deduct money from your account, and impersonate you to get credit in your name.
Credit Card Is Best
You may be better off paying by credit card than with a check, cash or money order, as long as you know with whom you're doing business. When you use your credit card for a purchase and there is a problem, you have the right to notify your card issuer that you are disputing the charge, and you don't have to pay it while your dispute is being investigated. It's easier to resolve a problem if you haven't already paid.
Take your time to decide. While there may be time limits for special offers, high-pressure sales tactics are often danger signs of fraud.
Resist pressure to send your payment by private courier, wire transmission or overnight delivery. These tactics are sometimes used to prevent you from changing your mind and to avoid law enforcement authorities such as the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Don't Take Chances
Don't enter contests or other games of chance unless you know the company or organization sponsoring them. Fraudulent telemarketers often get lists of potential victims from entry forms for free trips or other prizes that consumers drop in boxes at fairgrounds or shopping centers, and from responses to mailings for sweepstakes, contests and puzzles.
Recovery Services Scams
If you've lost money to a fraudulent telemarketer, beware of bogus "recovery services" that offer to get it back for you---for an up-front fee. People who are victimized once are often targeted again by the same crooks or others. Legitimate law enforcement agencies don't charge for attempting to help telemarketing scam victims.
You Have Control
You do have some control over who calls you. Under federal law, you can tell a telemarketer not to call again. If you want to exercise that right, be specific----don't just say that you're interested. Keep a list next to the phone with the company names and dates. If you are called again on behalf of those companies, report it to your state attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission. You can reduce unwanted calls. Sign up for the Direct Marketing Association's Telephone Preference Service. DMA member companies that participate in this industry-sponsored program will put you on their "do not
call" lists. If you are repeatedly called by fraudulent telemarketers, you may want to consider changing your phone number.
Telephone Preference Service
PO Box 9014
Farmingdale NY 11735-9014
Don't be shy about hanging up. Your phone is just like the door to your home or apartment. You don't have to open it or invite people in, and you can ask guests to leave at any time. Fraudulent telemarketers are very good at lying to, bullying or sweet talking their intended victims. The longer you stay on the line, the deeper they sink their hooks. Don't let a criminal in your home through your telephone line!
This article was provided courtesy of the National Fraud Information Center.