Telemarketing : Tips to Avoid Scams

A salesperson calls to offer you a "once-in-a-lifetime" chance to invest in gold coins. The salesperson assures you there's no risk and guarantees a high return on your investment. Sounds too good to be true? It is.

Telemarketing, selling products or services by phone, is an important and legitimate $500-billion a- year business. Telemarketing fraud, however, robs consumers approximately $40 billion every year. Scam artists peddle everything from overpriced and useless water "purifiers" to credit repair services and new scams are being invented daily. The Federal Trade Commission passed a regulation aimed at stopping telemarketing scams. The New regulation:

• Prohibits telemarketers from calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., and from calling if you have told them you don't want to be called.

• Requires that telemarketers promptly disclose their identity; the purpose of the call; the nature of the goods or services being sold; the odds of winning prizes, if any are offered; the fact that no purchase is necessary to participate; and the method by which you can enter without making a purchase.

• Requires that telemarketers disclose refund and cancellation policies and whether refunds and exchanges are allowed.

Tougher regulations help, but you can play a key role in the fight against telemarketing fraud. Remember:

• Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you initiated the call.

• Never give your checking account number over the phone.

• Never give a telemarketer personal information about yourself, including medical information, driver's license, Social Security or telephone calling card numbers.

• Never pay for a prize. That includes paying postage, shipping, handling or any costs associated with something a caller says you have "won."

• Never allow a caller to pressure you into acting immediately on any offer.

• Never agree to any offer until you have seen it in writing.

Remember...If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Write to :
Office of Consumer Protection
Division of Consumer Affairs
P.O. Box 45025
Newark, New Jersey 07101

or call : 973-504-6200
and ask for a complaint form.

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