Nashville, TN – You’ve just settled down to eat dinner, when the phone rings. The voice on the line addresses you by name and says your credit history or career qualifies you for a special investment opportunity.
Or maybe they want you to give to a charity. All you have to do, you’re told, is supply the caller with some information … financial information.
Hang up, and return to your dinner.
Telemarketing scammers like to appeal to your emotion – be it fear, sympathy or even greed – and pressure you to act quickly before you’ve thought through their premise.
Here are some tips to help make sure you don’t get swindled by fraudsters:
- Don’t give your credit card, bank account or Social Security number to unknown callers.
- Get all information in writing before you agree to buy something.
- Check out the charity before you give. Ask how much of your donation actually goes to the charity. Ask that written information be sent to you so you can make up your mind later. You may check charity registrations at Tennessee’s Secretary of State’s Office by visiting http://www.tn.gov/sos/charity/co-info.htm or calling 615.741.2555.
- Reject pressure to invest your money with an unknown caller.
- If the solicitation is for an investment, check with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) Securities Division at 1.800.863.9117 or , to see if the investment and seller are properly registered.
- Don’t send cash by messenger or by overnight mail. If you use cash instead of a credit card, you might lose your right to dispute fraud.
- Don’t agree to any offer where you have to pay for a “registration” or “shipping fee” to receive a prize or gift. If you have to pay, it’s a purchase – not a prize or gift.
- Don’t confirm your account information over the phone or by email. Some callers have your billing information before they call you. They’re trying to get you to say “okay” so they can claim you approved a charge.
- Check out unsolicited offers with TDCI’s Consumer Affairs Division before you agree to send money.
- Beware of offers to “help” you recover money you may have lost previously. Be wary of callers saying they are law enforcement officers who will help you get your money back “for a fee.”
- Don’t be afraid to say “no, thanks” and hang up the phone.
- If you don’t want a business to call you again, tell them. If they continue to call, report them to the Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Communications Commission.
Consumer Affairs (www.tn.gov/consumer/) is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance (www.tn.gov/commerce/), which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/, @TNCommerceInsur (Twitter), http://on.fb.me/uFQwUZ (Facebook), http://bit.ly/ry1GyX (YouTube)