Telemarketing Fraud: Protect Yourself

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines telemarketing as a plan, program, or campaign to sell goods or services over the phone. Most telemarketing companies abide by guidelines set forth by the FTC and Federal Communications Commission (FCC). However, there are telemarketers who are out to defraud consumers by using unfair and/or deceptive trade practices. You can protect yourself against telemarketing fraud by following these guidelines:

• Ask questions about the company or the products or services offered. Legitimate companies should not hesitate to give you the requested information.
• Understand the offer completely. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
• Beware of free prizes – particularly if you have to pay a fee, prepay taxes, or respond immediately.
• Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Ask the company to call back if you want time to think about it.
• Don’t give out personal information (e.g., account numbers, Social Security numbers, etc.)
• If you do buy something over the phone, never send cash. Instead, send a check or a money order.

If you have been contacted by a telemarketer who you suspect may be engaging in fraudulent activity, call the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060 for information about how to report fraud and which regulatory agency to contact.

If want to put a stop to all telemarketing calls, you can place your phone numbers on a national “do not call” registry. Once you register your phone number, most, but not all, telemarketing calls should stop within 31 days. You may continue to receive calls from political organizations, charities, and telephone surveyors, as well as calls from companies with which you have a business relationship. You can register for free online at www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222. To verify a number on the Do Not Call Registry, log onto www.ftc.gov/donotcall and click “Verify a Registration.”

FineMark National Bank & Trust has an office on The Island at Shell Point Retirement Community. If you have questions about this article, contact us by phone at (239) 461-5999.

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