Beware of those who come calling by phone

Scam Watch

May 25, 2008|By Dan Thanh Dang

The Federal Trade Commission launched a new consumer education campaign this month called "Who's Calling?" to warn consumers about telemarketing phone scams.

To avoid being victimized by phone, the FTC advises you to ask yourself seven important questions:

*Who's calling and why? Telemarketers must tell you it's a sales call, the name of the seller and what they're selling before they make their pitch. If they don't supply that information, get off the phone.

*What's the hurry? Fast talkers who use high-pressure tactics could be hiding something. Legitimate businesses will give you time and information before you commit to a purchase.

*If it's free, why are you asking me to pay? Question any charge you have to pay to redeem a prize or a gift. Free is free.

*Why am I confirming my account information? You shouldn't have to give out your personal financial data at all. Some callers have your billing information before they call you, so all they're trying to do is get you to say OK so they can claim you approved the charge.

*What time is it? By law, telemarketers can only call between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Anyone calling earlier or later should be reported to the FTC.

*Do I want more calls like this one? If you don't want a business to call you again, say so. If they call back after you've told them that, they're breaking the law.

*Isn't there a National Do Not Call Registry? Yes. Putting your number on the directory will stop most telemarketing calls, but not all. You will still get calls from businesses that you do business with unless you tell them to stop calling you, too. Calls from sales people working for unfamiliar businesses may be the sign of a scam.

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