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If it Sounds too Good to be True... It Probably Is

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"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." My grandmother would never have been accused of being overly optimistic, but her advice was generally dead-on correct. Remembering it has undoubtedly saved me from many a trickster out there intent on stealing my money in any way they can. It's advice well worth remembering today, when schemes, scams and frauds are perpetuated daily via our very own telephone lines, telemarketing crimes the Federal Trade Commission estimates at costing billions of dollars every year. That's right, billions.

Surveys taken by the American Association of Retired Persons say that over 50% of these frauds are committed against the elderly.

The National Fraud Center offers the following information to help potential victims recognize fraudulent attempts to gain access to their money:

  • Legitimate sweepstakes or prize offers don't ask for payment because it is illegal.
  • Legitimate companies don't pressure people to act immediately without taking time to consider the deal.
  • Legitimate companies are always willing to send information about what they're offering.
  • No legitimate company guarantees profits.
  • Legitimate companies do not ask for cash.
  • Legitimate companies do not ask for your social security number unless you are applying for credit.

    Some legitimate companies, of course, have neglected to read these guidelines, and telephone companies sometimes seem to be among the worse. Telemarketers selling long distance service often pressure people to act immediately, telling you the special deal they're offering is only available if you "accept today!" and will be unavailable if you insist on receiving written information about the offer in the mail. If that's the case, give it up. No "deal" is worth it if it means you're buying blind.

If a stranger walked up to you on the street asking for your social security or bank account numbers, it isn't likely you'd give them to him. Don't give them to strangers who call you on the telephone, either.

In Idaho, residents can register with the Attorney General's "No Call" list. Registering makes it illegal for telemarketers to call your number except for solicitations for charitable donations, and for telemarketers with whom you have an existing business relationship. The cost is $10 for three years; call 1-800-432-3545 for information.

Although Montana does not maintain a statewide "No Call" list, most telemarketers are required to register with the state.

If you ask a telemarketer to place you on their "do not call" list, it is required in all states that they do so immediately.

My grandmother also insisted on good manners and behaving politely- when it comes to telemarketers, however, this is advice we should all throw out the window. Don't be polite; just hang up the telephone.

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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

urban legends, fraud, elderly, no call list, telemarketers

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