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Consumer News: Telemarketing Scams

Every year, thousands of consumers lose money to telemarketing con artists.  Telephone con artists will say anything to try to cheat people out of money.  They may call you and imply that they work for a company you trust, or they may send direct mail or place ads to convince you to call them.  Attorney General Terry Goddard is warning Arizona consumers to use caution when receiving telemarketing calls.

Q. How can consumers limit the number of telemarketing calls that they receive?

A. The Federal Trade Commission established the National Do Not Call Registry which requires most telemarketers to stop calling.  Exceptions to the Registry are political organizations, charities, polls and surveys; companies with whom you have an existing business relationship; calls from companies you’ve given permission to call; and business to business calls.

      To register your number on the Do Not Call Registry:

  • Visit “DoNotCall.gov” and enter your phone number and email address.  Click “Submit.”  Confirm your information and click “Register.”  Open your email message from Register@donotcall.gov.  Click on the link to complete your registration or call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register.

 Q. What warning signs should consumers look for when dealing with a telemarketer?

A. Consumers should watch out for telemarketers who:

  • Pressure you to act immediately
  • Refuse to send you written information
  • Use scare tactics
  • Demand that you send payment by wire or courier
  • Demand that you pay taxes, custom fees or mailing fees to claim a prize
  • Request your financial account numbers
  • Promise to recover money you have lost in another scam, for a fee
  • Claim that you can earn money by working from home
  • Refuse to stop calling when you say you are not interested

Q. What additional tips can you offer to Arizona consumers to follow?

A. Goddard offers the following additional tips so that you can protect  yourself:

  • Arizona’s Telephone Solicitations Statute requires telemarketers to make certain disclosures before they can solicit customers.  Check with the Arizona Secretary of State (602.542.4366/www.azsos.gov) to determine whether the telemarketing company has registered with the State.  Also check with the State Treasurer’s Office (602.542.7176) to determine whether the company has filed a bond.  The law also requires all telemarketing companies to tell their customers, both orally and in writing, that they have the right to cancel their order within three days after receiving merchandise purchased from the telemarketer.
  • Don’t share your credit card and bank account numbers over the phone.  Telephone scammers often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch and then use them to commit other frauds against you.
  • Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity before you open your wallet. 
  • If you decide to purchase or make a contribution after receiving written information, pay by credit card, instead of by cash, check, money order or debit card, as you can dispute the charges if you do not get what you were promised.  Dispute credit card charges if you do not get what you were promised.

If you believe you are a victim of a fraud or scam, please contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at 602.542-5763, in Tucson at 520.628.6504 or outside of the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1.800.352.8431.  Consumers can also file complaints online at the Attorney General’s Web site atwww.azag.gov.  To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General’s Office has satellite offices throughout the state with volunteers available to help.  Locations and hours of operation are posted on the Attorney General’s Web site.