6 Signs Of Telemarketing Fraud

Besides being annoying and disruptive, some telemarketers are outright crooks, trying to swindle the unaware out of their hard-earned money. Via Fraud.org, here are six tell-tale conversation flags that indicate you’re dealing with a telephonic scam artist:

  • Promising that you can win money, make money, or borrow money easily
  • Demanding that you act immediately or else miss out on this great opportunity
  • Refusing to send written information prior to your purchase or donation
  • Trying to scare you into buying something
  • Insisting you wire money or a courier will come by to pick up your payment
  • Refusing to stop calling after you ask them to stop.

The best defense against telemarketing fraud? Hanging up. Go ahead, needn’t be rude. “No thanks, goodbye.” CLICK.

Five Steps to Help Seniors Targeted by Telemarketing Fraud [Fraud.org]
(photo: jpghouse)

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  1. Parting says:

    Or you can say : ”Wait a minute”, put them on hold, and leave.
    They will hang up themselves.

    And they probably will never call you again, if they do – repeat the process.

    Always works like a charm.

  2. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    How about asking you to call a special 900 number that automatically charges the cost of the doohickey to your phone bill? Years ago when I was in school, I worked briefly for a call center that had a shady product they sold this way. is it even legal anymore?

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    Scammers also tend to hang up on you when you tell them your brother in-law is a cop.

  4. joeblevins says:

    Back in the day, pre-wife. I had a telemarketer ask for Mr/Mrs joeblevins. I said, what do you need with Mrs joeblevins. They said her name had been picked because of her heavy travel… Yada yada. I then pretended to start crying and saying that I was exceptionally lonely since my wife had died. I was brutal. Took 15 minutes of that persons time and I think I made them cry. Nothing was on TV, so I was bored.

  5. Starfury says:

    Ah…telemarketers. They still call even though we’re on the do not call list. BofA was the latest caller; they used to hold our mortgage until we did a re-fi a few years back. I told them to put us on the do not call list and the guy on the phone got all formal and gave me a spiel about it’ll take 30 days for it to be processed.

    As for what I do to them:

    1. Hang up.
    2. Say “no thank you” and then hang up
    3. Give the phone to the kids and let them talk.
    4. Tell them to ‘hold on’ and abandon the phone
    5. Tell them to ‘hold on’ and play a video game with the phone by the speakers. I’m sure the sound of machine gun fire is lots of fun.

    I’ve also told them the person they’re asking for died and that I was just there to rob the place.

  6. beyond says:

    #1 way to know a telemarketer is a scam: They’re calling you.

    I just don’t give my personal information (much less financial information) to anyone who calls me. No one.

  7. Uhh… you doubled up the 5th one, the wording is just slightly different.

  8. Um, you said the fifth one twice with a little bit different wording.

  9. edrebber says:

    The best defense is to pay extra for your own 900 number and give that number out as your home phone number. Then you won’t mind keeping anyone who calls on the phone as long as possible, because you’re getting paid.

  10. ColoradoShark says:

    @beyond: Aww! You beat me to it! I was going to say the same thing.

    Bonus snide remark: How do you know when a car salesman is trying to cheat you? His lips are moving. (From my boss whose father sold used cars.)

  11. savvy9999 says:

    I have a question– what do you do about people/telemarketers/bill collectors that repeatedly call your phone # because some a-hole keeps giving it out as his own? I’ve had the same # for almost 5 years, and some ****head named “Jared Loose” keeps giving out my cell # whenever he gets a new credit card and skips out on the payments. At least 5 times a day I am called by repo men and bill collectors looking for Jared. I’m on the no-call list, I tell the a-holes to take me off their list, I’m not this Jared ****wad. I read Consumerist, I pay my bills in full every month.

    Lately I’ve been threatening that I’m a lawyer (I am not), and that I’m recording the call, but it hasn’t seemed to make a difference. Help!

    Is changing my phone # the only way to get this to stop? IF I ever get my hands on this Jared, I’m going to punch him in the face repeatedly.

  12. Mariallena says:

    #1 sign of telemarketing scams? The phone is ringing.

    Seriously, ask them to put you on their do-not-call list. Every telemarketer should have one by law and your number should stay on the list for 10 years.

  13. DimitroffVodka says:

    I work in a large Call Center and we do pretty much everything you say not too. Half the work force gets the information from the person than they transfer it to the other half to sell it.


    “Demanding that you act immediately or else miss out on this great opportunity”

    – We definitely do this. We tell them is a one shot deal or you lose out on the deal. We just tell them it is for security purposes.

    “Refusing to send written information prior to your purchase or donation”

    – We will never do anything like this before you buy anything but you will get your paper work in 7-10 business days.

    “Trying to scare you into buying something”

    – There is a lot of high pressure for sure

    “Refusing to stop calling after you ask them to stop.”

    – Unfortunately we do this. I really wish they didn’t though and do my best to make sure they are actually taken off the list


    After all that people still have no problem giving me their credit card for $3000. I know it is completly mind blowing to me too. We are not a scam but we definitely deal with high pressure sales. Me and my coworkers talk about how none of us would ever even answer the phone. The funniest part is that the way we get most of their info is just by reverse looking their phone number on white pages.

  14. Beerad says:

    @savvy9999: That royally sucks. Changing your phone number might be the only real option – if Jared ****wad keeps signing up your number, you’ll be bothered forever.

    When I was in college, a local pizza place misprinted their number in a popular coupon book. The number was off by one digit and was actually the number of some random poor soul who kept being called at all hours by college kids trying to order pizza. I called once (before I realized this) and his answering machine picked up with a desparate message “Please, PLEASE stop calling me! This is NOT Gumby’s pizza!” The message didn’t sound angry so much as depressed and at wits’ end. I don’t know why he hadn’t changed the number yet, but I bet he must have eventually. Or maybe he waited six months for the next edition of the coupon book to come out.

  15. deeness says:

    Chase Credit Cards is guilty of #3.

  16. Trai_Dep says:

    Expouse liberally of your love – nay obsession – for penetrative anal sex then ask them to talk about their children.

  17. RandomHookup says:

    “No speak English!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  18. Crim Law Geek says:

    @savy9999:
    I wouldn’t tell them I’m a lawyer if I where you. It may be illegal in your jurisdiction to tell people you are a lawyer in your jurisdiction if you’re not actually a lawyer. It might come back to bite you in the ass.

    //Law student
    // Thinks “attorney” (practicant) is not same as “lawyer”, no matter what the dictionary says
    //Tells strippers, etc he’s a lawyer

  19. lowlight69 says:

    my wife and i have a simple solution:

    phone rings, we answer
    “hi “
    “we do not accept any solicitations over the phone, please put me on your do not call list, have a nice day” hang up.

    we do this with EVERY telemarketing call, even charities and especially alumni groups.

    speaking of alumni groups/universities, i already gave you several thousands of dollars for tuition why would i give you more?????

  20. Murph1908 says:

    @joeblevins:
    Nice. I had a similar experience.

    After discovering the Army quit calling me after I told them my uncle was a Navy recruiter (true), I told the same thing to the Navy recruiter, and they quit calling.

    Well, I tried a similar tactic when a window salesman called. I told them my dad had just replaced the windows last year (lie). He surprised me with a follow-up, “What company did he go with for that?” I could only respond. “I don’t know, he died in April (true), and we didn’t talk much before then (lie). There are so many questions I wish I’d asked him, but that’s not one of them.” The guy was speechless.

  21. acambras says:

    @savvy9999:

    Hi, this is Jared… are there any messages for me?

    *

    *

    *

    I kid…I kid…

  22. ParkerTheDog says:

    @savvy9999:
    My wife & I had the same problem (not Jared Loose, though – some woman – I forget her name) Anyway, some bill collector kept leaving messages on our phone asking us to call him at a 1-800 number. We ignored it for the longest time, but out of frustration, my wife finally called him and told him (calmly), “You have the wrong number. This woman must have given you our number – she does not live here. Please quit calling us.” Surprisingly, that actually worked! I think we only had the one agency calling us. It sounds like you have to deal with a more difficult situation: multiple agencies. Good luck!

    P.S. Yes, if all else fails, get that number changed.

  23. Scuba Steve says:

    @Starfury:
    And @Everyone who speaks to unsolicited callers:

    Please say “I do not wished to be called again.” Please. Why? Because I am required by my job to call you back if you:

    1. Hang up. (we wait a week)
    2. Don’t Answer (we wait a day, usually, sometimes sooner)
    3. Say no thanks (we wait a week)
    4. Start cursing (we still wait a week)
    5. Say you don’t have time (We wait a week unless told otherwise).

    Basically, as a surveyor, I don’t want to talk to you as much as you don’t want to talk to me, but we have procedures to follow.

    And lastly, please remember, you can scream Do Not Call list all you want to me, but I don’t really care. It only applies to telemarketers, not Surveyors* or companies that you’ve bought from.
    *However, I will take you off our list regardless, because I’m sure that’s what you meant to say.

    It is against my employment contract to discuss this, thankfully I’m out at the end of the week.

  24. Scuba Steve says:

    Also, when you call as many people a day as we do in my business, individual stories mean nothing. We understand. We just don’t care. We can’t, we couldn’t do this job if we did. It’s a coping mechanism. You’d be lucky if we remembered if you were male or female by the end of the conversation.

  25. Buran says:

    @ParkerTheDog: I tried that once. It didn’t work. They must hire drooling idiots who can’t understand that phone numbers get re-issued.

  26. zephyrum says:

    Spoken slowly and loud: “No thank you. Please take this number off of your list.”

    *click*

  27. savvy9999 says:

    @acambras: ROFLMAO

    btw, I can barely eat at Subway anymore, since some guy named Jared apparently works for them. Yes, it has driven me to point of being a Jared-ite.

    @Parkerdog, I’ve tried that, called them back, doesn’t work. I think they don’t believe me, that I’m Jared and just trying to get them off my back.

    I’m about to the point of switching, let the poor fool who gets the number next deal with it. It’s cursed.

  28. ludwigk says:

    When my GF and I moved into our first apartment, and had our first land line, we kept getting calls from the local police station from an Officer such-and-such, calling to talk with some individual. We got maybe 10 messages, but we couldn’t understand what the cop was saying because he was mumbling into the phone. Didn’t know his name, couldn’t get the number he was leaving to call him back to tell him it’s not that guy’s number.

  29. TechnoDestructo says:

    @DimitroffVodka: “We tell them is a one shot deal or you lose out on the deal. We just tell them it is for security purposes.”

    What possible security could that provide? Job security?

  30. magus_melchior says:

    @RandomHookup: Any foreign language skills is a great plus here, and there’s no need to fake an accent.

    For instance, you could greet as default (or for unknown numbers if you have caller ID) “Moshi moshi?” if you know Japanese. Follow up with “Anoh, eigo ga wakarimasen,” and the telemarketer will stumble his/her way to a hangup.

    Of course, if the telemarketer responds in Japanese, I’ll have to try the “hold indefinitely” tactic the FP proposed…

  31. bugmenot01 says:

    We get calls constantly on our phone at home at all hours. My solution is to lookup who called and post the Caller ID number and report the telemarketer to Numberzoom.com

  32. Jordan Lund says:

    #7 – They start the conversation by stating “this is not a sales call.”

    Yeah, yeah, you just want a moment of my time to complete a survey, right? CLICK

  33. OwenCatherwood says:

    @magus_melchior: if Japanese fails, try Russian or Polish. Odds are telemarketers aren’t trilingual across such a broad spectrum of languages, since they’d have far better jobs than a telemarketer. Only then should you have to resort to the “hold indefinitely” tactic.

  34. lonelymaytagguy says:

    @Jordan Lund:

    Caller: This is not a sales call.
    Me: Oh, darn. I wanted to buy something today. Bye. <click>

  35. sammyboy says:

    A few years ago, I came home from a wonderful day of public education, and the phone rings as soon as I walk in the door. The conversation goes like this:

    ~Hello, we’re looking for miss ___ ____.~
    “Yes, that’s me.”
    ~Good, good. I see here on your records that you have outstanding mortgage debts on your name, and we’d like to help you pay fo-~
    “I’m 15, lady..”
    ~… *clink* ~

    True story

  36. crankymediaguy says:

    We used to get telemarketing calls several times a week until my wife found a device that connects in-line between the phone jack and the phone itself. If you call us now, you hear a recording that says, “This phone number does NOT accept sales calls of any kind. If this is NOT a sales call, please press 1.”

    Only if the person presses 1 does our phone ring. It has reduced our telemarketing calls to nearly zero.

    I don’t know exactly where my wife found this great little box, but I’m sure a little Googling around can turn it up for you.

  37. Snakeophelia says:

    @savvy9999: Go ahead and change your number. We had this same problem three years ago with our landline. Not only did the previous owner of the number skip town on all his creditors, but he continued to give that number out when writing bad checks. I did have one entertaining conversation with a bar owner who had been written a bad check and was looking for the guy, but that didn’t balance out all the persistent creditors (AT&T was the worst). Just bite the bullet and change your number.

  38. ZugTheMegasaurus says:

    Hey guys, there’s no reason to be mean to telemarketers. I worked telemarketing to pay my tuition after I needed surgery and couldn’t work any other entry-level job for a few months (I was in a wheelchairm, so I couldn’t wait tables or work at a store like I do nowadays).

    I was absolutely shocked by the number of people out there who think it’s acceptable to turn into a raving asshole because someone dared to call your number (and just so you know, you did SOMETHING to get your number on the list; they don’t get it through black magic). Seriously, if you’re screaming at the person on the other end of the line and calling them a “cunt” and a “fucking bitch” because they said hello, you need some professional help.

    Also, don’t do those cute little “tricks”. They aren’t funny, and telemarketers have heard it all before. You just waste everyone’s time.

    Look, don’t waste your time (why would you?) and don’t waste their time (they’re just trying to make a living, like anybody else). Trust me, no one works that job because they like it; they work telemarketing because they’re out of options. Just say, “Thanks for the offer, but I’m not interested. Please put me on your “Do Not Call List.” I was more than happy to put nice, polite people on the DNC list, even if they didn’t ask for it.

  39. agb says:

    @edrebber: I like that idea. How do I get my own 900#?

  40. nakedinlb says:

    1) The second I realize it’s a telemarketer. I just hang up. It’s my phone and I pay for it. It’s for my convienence, not theirs. If their feelings are hurt, they need to find another job.

    2) When I lived in the dorms at college, my phone number was very close to some parts department. I’d get calls all day long asking to place an order. This got very old, very fast. So I just started answering the phone, “Parts”. Someone would rattle off their order and I’d say thanks and hang up. Again, not my problem some dumbshit can’t dial right.