|Title:||ENCOURAGING SENIORS TO SAY NO TO TELEMARKETING FRAUD||
Status: WEB ONLY
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Encouraging Seniors to Say NO to Telemarketing Fraud
Senior citizens grew up in an era when trusting and being trustworthy were normal behavior, and generally that trust was reciprocated. Unfortunately, because of this mind-set today, they may fall victim to unscrupulous people through various forms of fraud. Seniors may be incapable of making the distinction between a pleasant voice on the other end of the phone and that of an individual involved in an illegal scheme or activity. And they may not know that such fraudulent actions are crimes and punishable by law.
Telemarketing is the action generated by way of selling a product or service over the telephone. Telefraud is the use of the telephone for sales that are not legitimate. Telefunding is the name of the act performed when fraud-like sweepstakes, contests, and charitable solicitations are executed over the telephone. Many telemarketing scams originate out of boiler rooms-places in the basement next to the heating unit-where most unscrupulous people use high-pressure telephone sales tactics to sell fraudulent goods and services.
Both good and bad telemarketers use 800
or 900 numbers. Toll-free numbers like 800, 877, 866 or 822 are
long distance telephone lines, except audio entertainment or information
services. The percentage of long distance calls to 800 numbers
is about 40 percent. Numbers such as 900 and 976 are caller paid
long distance services that allow consumers and businesses to
retrieve information over the telephone. Watch out for unfamiliar
area codes such as 809 in the Caribbean. This code could also
represent an international number and the charges could be very
HOW TO PROTECT SENIORS:
- Instill in them the awareness that the voice on the other end of the telephone could be a crook and that giving money to a telemarketer means losing it forever.
- Tell them illegal telemarketing is big business that robs thousands of seniors daily. A telephone is the weapon that does the robbing instead of a gun.
- Inform them that telemarketing fraud is a crime and punishable by law, and encourage them to report illegal telemarketing scams to authorities.
- Instill in seniors that illegal telemarketers do not care about the pain that seniors encounter when losing their life savings in such deals.
- Tell them that legitimate telemarketers are willing to send written information about products or services they are selling.
- Inform them that a call is generally a scam if the caller asks for a social security number, a credit card number, or a bank account number if they are not buying anything or paying with those accounts.
- Inform them that they have a right to investigate any telemarketing product or service.
- Watch for unusual amounts of junk mail on winning contests, prizes, free trips, and sweepstakes, particularly if the advertisements are asking for payment to cover administrative processing fees, customs and taxes. Legitimate sweepstakes or prize offers do not ask for payments because it is illegal.
- Be aware of frequent calls from people making offers for alleged valuable awards or great money-making opportunities, or asking for charitable donations.
- Watch for the evidence of many cheap items such as costume jewelry watches, pens and pencils, small appliances, beauty products to be purchased in order to win something or to receive a so-called valuable prize.
- Watch for secretive or guarded behavior regarding telephone calls.
- Notice if a private courier stops by the senior's home. Perhaps he/she is having payments picked up or is wiring money to companies.
- Observe whether the senior is having unexpected problems paying bills or buying food or other necessities.
- Watch for the receipt of calls from someone or an organization stating they can help seniors recover money paid to telemarketers for a fee.
- Help the person gather information to report the fraud to the state attorney general's office, a local consumer protection agency, and/or to the National Fraud Information Center (NFIC).
- Stress the importance of reporting this crime. Bring awareness to the criminal nature of telemarketing fraud and help the individual learn how to identify such deals.
- Encourage the person to hang up on telephone solicitations that seem unreal or too good to be true.
- Have a heart-to-heart, calm and peaceful discussion about the person's finances and try to come to an agreement about the best way to handle finances in the future. If the senior seems incompetent, seek legal advice. If necessary, insist that the person change his/her telephone number.
- Blame or accuse the person of being stupid, greedy or foolish. Telemarketing swindlers are good at what they do and take advantage of a person's honesty, politeness and hopefulness.
- Threaten to take away the person's financial or physical independence. This may only make the person secretive and resentful.
A few regulations from the Federal Trade Commission on telemarketing:
- Callers must identify their company and product being sold.
- If a prize is offered, they must inform you that "no purchase/payment" is needed to win.
- They cannot ask you to pay in advance for services.
- They cannot call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. (local time).
IMPORTANT TELEPHONE NUMBERS
While many callers make offers that sound very good, even too good to pass up, seniors should not be afraid to take time to make up their mind.
National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)
National Consumers League Telemarketing Fraud
Although they specialize in telemarketing and Internet fraud, NFIC also makes referrals for other types of fraud.
Alabama Attorney General's Consumer Affairs 1-800-392-5658
Alabama Public Service Commission 1-877-727-8200
Call and ask to be put on the do not list call list, so that telemarketers cease contacting you. This is a free service. The Alabama Public Service Commission is partnering with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help Alabama consumer who want to reduce the number of telephone solicitations they receive. Alabama has adopted the National Do Not Call Registry and has merged its register with the national list administered by the FTC.
1120 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036-6700
Phone: (212) 768-7277
Fax: (212) 302-6714
PHONE RESOURCES FOR FIGHTING CREDIT FRAUD
American Financial Services Association
Contact this organization for a free copy of "Making Credit Work for You."
National Do Not Call Registry 1-888-382-1222, TTY 1-866-290-4236
The registration of your home or mobile telephone number will remain on the registry permanently because of the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007 that became law in February of 2008.
Consumer Services. (n.d.). Alabama:
A proud partner in the national do not call registry.
Retrieved August 24, 2010.
UNP-0038, Revised August 2010, Bernice B. Wilson, Extension Urban Specialist, Resource management, Alabama A&M University.
Published by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University), an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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