What should I look for?

One tip-off to a telephone/Internet solicitation scam is a very low-priced offer. Few legitimate businesses can afford to give away things of real value or substantially undercut everyone else's price. Be cautious if you hear the following types of offers:

  • An offer for free gifts that requires you to pay shipping and handling charges, redemption fees, or gift taxes before delivery. The gift may be worth less than the extra charges.
  • Get-rich-quick schemes that promise "high-profit, no risk" investments in gold, oil, gas, real estate, or gems. No high-profit investment is free of risk.
  • High-pressure sales tactics to get you to "act now" because the offer will not be available tomorrow. If it is a good deal today, it is usually a good deal tomorrow.
  • "Buy one, get one free" travel, vacation or similar deals. The first one may cost more than the entire package is worth.
  • Your favorite charity: some telephone solicitation scheme claim to be acting on behalf of charities. Callers may claim to work for charities that do not exist or are not legitimate. Often, these callers will use a name that sounds like that of a well-known charity.
  • Phone contests offering prizes. Usually, no contest has been held, and everyone is a winner. To claim your prize, you may be asked to provide your credit card or bank account number for verification purposes. The prize may have very little value, and the telephone solicitor may take your credit card number or bank account information and bill you for merchandise you did not order.
  • Calling 900 numbers: dialing a 900 number costs you by the minute, from a few dollars to more than $50 per minute. These charges then appear on your phone bill.
  • Foreign lotteries: Although it is illegal to purchase tickets in a foreign lottery, scam artists will sell you tickets under the pretense that you are part of a pool of ticket purchasers sure to win and split the proceeds.
  • Requests for Updating Your Information: you may receive an email that has a bank ,eBay or other company logo that is requesting that you update your information by clicking on the link provided. Web scams can reproduce very realistic websites in order to have you enter your personal information, which they will use for other purposes. Check the website address in your address bar - most legitimate, secure sites have either https: or shttp: on the beginning of their address. Also look for an icon of a padlock. If you click on the padlock, it should give you the details of the site. In almost all cases, banks, credit unions, eBay and other companies will not ask for you to update your information via the Web. If you have questions, call the company using a phone number from a statement (NOT the one listed in the email) and speak to customer service to verify that they are making this request via email. Legitimate financial institutions will usually contact you by mail for this information.

Show All Answers

1. What is telemarketing/email fraud?
2. What should I look for?
3. How do I protect myself?