AG Warns Seniors to Avoid Telemarketing Fraud (online only)
By The Office of the Attorney General of Louisiana
Have you ever been approached by a telemarketer offering
you a deal that seems too good to be true? If you are age 60 or older—and
especially if you are an older woman living alone—you may be a special target
of people who sell bogus products and services by telephone. May is
nationally recognized as Older American’s Month, and Attorney General Buddy
Caldwell is warning citizens of telemarketing scams that target our elderly
Telemarketing scams often involve offers of free prizes,
low-cost health care products, and inexpensive vacations. They often use
high pressure sales tactics such as, “You must act now, or the offer won’t be
good,” in order to discourage consumers from consulting with family or trusted
advisors about the product or investment. All too often, these fraudulent
sales pitches are run by scammers trying to bilk you out of your hard earned
savings. It is very difficult to track down these scammers and even more
difficult to have your money returned once a transaction has taken place.
Regardless of the phone number that shows up on your caller ID, the fraudulent
telemarketer could actually be calling from anywhere in the world.
“Unfortunately, giving your money to a fraudulent
telemarketer could mean losing it forever,” stated Caldwell. “Our best
line of defense is to educate the public on how to recognize telemarketing
fraud, so they can avoid being scammed all together.”
The Attorney General’s Office and the FBI offer the
following tips to recognize and avoid telemarketing scams:
Never send money or give out personal
information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account
numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or
Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller
tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.
Always check out unfamiliar companies
with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state
attorney general, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog
groups. Unfortunately, not all bad businesses can be identified through these
Obtain a salesperson’s name, business
identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business
license number before you transact business. Some con artists give out false
names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers. Verify the
accuracy of these items.
Be wary of companies that want to send a
messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service
to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who
they are or where they can be reached.
Always take your time making a decision.
Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision.
Always ask for and wait until you receive
written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly
investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. But
beware—not everything written down is true.
Be sure to talk over big investments
offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or
financial advisor. It’s never rude to wait and think about an offer.
Never respond to an offer you don’t
If you have been victimized once, be wary
of persons who call offering to help you recover your losses for a fee paid in
Reporting suspected telemarketing fraud is essential to
stop it. To report a telemarketing scam, please contact the Louisiana
Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-351-4889.