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Hate telemarketers

Stop calling me by Maya Taylor

5 Common Telemarketing Scams And How To Avoid Them

December 31, 2016

Telemarketers have been around for decades. Most are harmless and, at the very worst, you’re annoyed at having dinner interrupted. But there are other telemarketers that will try to scam those they call out of thousands of dollars. This is when their calling becomes more than annoying, it becomes downright criminal.
 
There are a few common telemarketing scams to watch out for. A lot of scams target seniors and other vulnerable groups, but anyone can still be a victim.
 
1. You won an international lottery. In this scam, the caller says that you won the lottery in some foreign country, but in order to receive your winnings you need to pay a “small fee” for tax purposes or to insure the winnings. You might even receive a check for a couple of thousand dollars. They’ll have you wire the money to a foreign country, but when you go to deposit the check they sent, you’ll find out it’s a fake.
 
2. Utility company scam. Someone will call claiming to be from the local utility company (water, gas, electricity, etc). They’ll tell you that your bill is overdue and you can avoid having your services shutoff if you agree to pay your bill, plus late charges. They may just ask for a credit card number or they can ask for your checking account information for a direct payment. These scams typically target senior citizens.
 
3. Fake IRS scam. Most people prefer not to run afoul of the IRS. That’s what scammers count on when they call unsuspecting taxpayers and tell them that they owe money. The person will be told that if they don’t pay, then they face a lawsuit or arrest. But you can pay them with a credit card or wire transfer and the IRS won’t pursue you any further. The IRS does not ask for credit card or bank account information over the phone.
 
4. Fake charities. This scam is when a person calls claiming to be from a charity that sounds familiar (their names will sound very much like large, well-known charities). You’ll be asked to make a donation with either a credit card or check. If you do get a call from a charity, ask them to send you information by mail so you can read more about them before handing over your hard-earned money.
 
5. Identity theft insurance. In today’s digital age, identity theft is a very real possibility and can be a nightmare for the victim. Scammers will prey on these fears when they call saying you’re credit card number can be used by thieves to run up thousands of dollars in debts, and that you’ll be on the hook for those debts unless you buy their “insurance” for a few hundred dollars. Federal law already protects you from liability if your credit card number is stolen.
 
There are many more types of telemarketing scams out there. Some are variations on the ones listed above, while others get very creative in how they steal money from their victims. The best rule of thumb for avoiding many scams: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if someone claims you owe money (like in the utility and IRS scams), you can call the utility company or IRS directly to verify the status of your accounts. It’s best to stay vigilant and always do your homework before handing over money to a stranger.

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