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Phone Scams and Telemarketers

Normally I just post about email scams, but I thought it would be helpful to add a post that's slightly off the beaten track for this site: Watching Out For Devious Telemarketers and Phone Scams.

Phone scams are getting more and more common all the time, and the simplest way to deal with them is to assume that anyone you don't know who is calling you is a scammer.

"But isn't that extreme?" you might ask.

A bit extreme, perhaps, but not really. After all, it only takes one scam to ruin your financial stability.

Let's suppose someone calls from your phone company, or your cable company, or any other company you do business with. They might be calling because there is something wrong with your bill. For starters, ask them to provide some specific information from your bill which would prove they are actually in possession of your bill. If they refuse (which they may do for legal reasons), politely explain that you'll need to call them back. Then, when they offer to give you the number you can call, don't call that number. Instead, look up the number that's on your bill. That way you know you're getting the right people.

And anyone else who might be cold-calling you, assume that they are scamming you. Because 99% of the time they are. Want proof? Here's something fun to try.

When you get connected to an operator, ask the following sequence of questions:

1. What's your company name?
2. Do you have a website?
3. And what's the web address?
4. I notice this website doesn't list a physical mailing address or phone number. What's your company's mailing address?

What you will discover is that almost without fail, when you ask question #3, or question #4, the operator will say "Please hold", but in actuality, they will hang up on you.

Yes, that's right. 99% of the time, the operator hangs up on you rather than providing basic contact information for their company.

That should be all the proof you need. They want your credit card number, but they won't provide the most basic of contact information.

And by the way, if they do answer all the questions, that does not mean they are legitimate - they might not have provided you with accurate contact information. But when they do hang up, that's all the proof you need they're trying to scam you.