Consumer Fraud is on the Rise

Joyce B. Robinson

May 24, 2023

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Consumer fraud is on the rise in the USA. Federal Trade Commission data shows that consumers reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022, an increase of more than 30 percent over the previous year. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a reputable telemarketer and criminals who use the phone to rob people. However, you can protect yourself by learning how to recognize the danger signs of fraud.

Popular Telemarketing Scams

It’s illegal for a telemarketer to ask for a fee to get you a credit card or loan, “repair” your credit, pay or buy something to win a prize, or buy and sell tickets to foreign lotteries by phone or mail.

Popular Telemarketing Scams include:

  • Phony Calls from the Government - Scammers often pretend to be contacting you on behalf of the government, like the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or Medicare. The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email or text messages to request personal or financial information. The Social Security Administration will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business, but will never threaten you with arrest or other legal action.
  • Counterfeit Checks - A check and letter come with a toll-free number to call announcing that you have won an award. When you call and are instructed to deposit a check and to wire money to cover fees, insurance, and taxes on the award. The check is counterfeit and your money is gone.
  • Advance Fee Loan Scams - You call a toll-free number that guarantees a loan or credit card to people with no credit, poor credit, prior bankruptcies, or inadequate incomes. You are required to pay a fee to cover processing, credit insurance, and a security deposit. But never receive the loan.
  • Fix Your Credit Scams - A telemarketer say that they can fi x your credit score by removing negative items on your credit report for a few hundred dollars. However, accurate negative items cannot be removed from a credit report and consumers can get false information removed at no cost by contacting the credit bureau.
  • Email Lost Money or Robbery Scam - An email which appears to be from a relative or friend informs you that while they were on vacation their money and identification were stolen and to wire money. It directs you to a link with either a virus or fraudulent information.

How to Avoid a Telemarketing Scam

To avoid a telemarketing scam, block unwanted calls and text messages; never give your personal or financial information to callers, unless you can verify their identity; don’t click on unknown links; never call the number the telemarketer gives you, look up the number to the agency or business yourself; never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card, or a wire transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram; and never deposit a check and send money back to someone.

Report Scams

In closing, be cautious when dealing with fraudulent calls and unknown companies. Use Caller ID or an answering machine to screen calls, and hang up on suspicious callers. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Telemarketing Sales Rule helps protect consumers from fraudulent telemarketing calls and gives them certain protections under the National Do Not Call Registry. If you were scammed or think you saw a scam, contact the FTC at Next, put your number on the national “do-not-call” registry to stop most telemarketing calls at 1-888-382-1222, TTY 1-866-290-4326.

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