Tips for Avoiding Telemarketing Scams

* Be wary of any offers that seem “too good to be true.” They usually are.

* Beware of anyone who asks you to send money for a prize you have won, and do not buy anything over the telephone unless you are certain you are dealing with a familiar, reputable company.

* Ask a lot of questions and listen carefully to the answers. If the caller doesn’t answer your questions, hang up.

* Refuse to be pressured into making a hasty decision. The more a caller tries to hurry you into buying something or sending money, the more likely he is a crook.


* Never give out your credit card number or information about your bank account to anyone you don’t know. Remind your children to never give financial information to callers.

* Remember: If a postcard announcing your prize tells you to call a 900 number to collect it, that call will cost you at least $3 a minute.

* Do not be embarrassed to report the fraud. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of a telemarketing scam, report it to your city attorney, county district attorney or state attorney general, or call the National Fraud Information Center hot line at (800) 876-7060.

Free brochures available about telemarketing scams are:


* “Schemes, Scams & Flim-Flams: A Consumer’s Guide to Phone Fraud,” published by the National Fraud Information Center. Call (800) 999-5136.

* “Telephone Scams and Older Consumers,” published by the FTC, the American Assn. of Retired Persons and the National Assn. of Attorneys General. Write to the Federal Trade Commission, 6th & Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20580.

* “Swindlers Are Calling,” published by the Alliance Against Fraud in Telemarketing. Write to the AAFT, c/o the National Consumers League, 815 15th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20005.

Sources: NFIC, Federal Trade Commission, AARP