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Telemarketing scams: what to know

Spamming has increased over the last few years, especially via phone. As some phone scammers are a bit more subtle, here are some tips for recognizing common telemarketing scams and how to avoid falling for them.

Video Transcript

- Phone swindlers are very good at making opportunities sound legitimate. They'll often use official-sounding language designed to go over your head and disorient you. They usually come with these signs, a fast-talking salesperson who guarantees an unusually high return for little risk; liberal use of phrases like "special" or "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" or "unique," a request for your credit card or bank account number, a demand for quick action, as scammers don't want you to think about it or verify what they're promising you.

Legitimate salespeople will respect your choice to decline. Nearly anything can be fraudulently marketed over the phone. Here are some of the biggest, charity appeals, especially in the aftermath of major natural disasters, investments, prizes, vacations, gifts, or government grants for which you must pay some type of fee or tax, fake technical support people from real companies, like Microsoft, claiming that you have a computer virus and you can get rid of it by going to a certain website and signing up for a service, fake IRS agents telling you that you owe taxes and can pay them over the phone. By the way, the IRS never contacts people this way.

Here's how to avoid them and how to respond if you are ensnared. Consult a financial advisor or attorney about any offer first. Request written material on the offer. Get the salesperson's name, phone number, address, and business license number and then verify them. Don't pay in advance for any services if offered by cold callers.

Never give out your credit card, social security number, bank account, or date of birth to unknown callers. And finally, there's the option to just hang up. Stay financially fit, friends.