Information on Scams and Robo Calls

Every year thousands of people lose money to scams — from a few dollars to their life savings. If you get a call from someone who claims to represent TCT or another company you trust, trying to sell you something you hadn’t planned to buy, say “No thanks.”, if they pressure you about giving up personal information — like your credit card or Social Security number — it’s likely a scam. Hang up and report them to them Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Remember, per FCC rules, anyone making a solicitation call must provide their name, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and the telephone number and address where that person or entity can be contacted. Telephone solicitation calls to your home are prohibited before 8 am or after 9 pm, and telemarketers are required to comply immediately with any do-not-call request you make during a call.

If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall.  There has been a significant increase in the number of illegal robocalls because internet-powered phone systems have made it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to hide from law enforcement by displaying fake caller ID information. To date hundreds of lawsuits have been brought against over 600 companies and individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls and other Do Not Call violations. The FTC and FCC are working together to combat robocalls with aggressive law enforcement, building better tools for investigating robocalls and coordinating with law enforcement, industry, and other stakeholders.

Signs of a Scam

Often, scammers who operate by phone don’t want to give you time to think about their pitch; they just want you to say “yes.” But some are so cunning that, even if you ask for more information, they seem happy to comply. They may direct you to a website or otherwise send information featuring “satisfied customers.” These customers, known as shills, are likely as fake as their praise for the company.

Here are a few red flags to help you spot telemarketing scams:

  • You’ve been specially selected (for this offer).
  • You’ll get a free bonus if you buy our product.
  • You’ve won one of five valuable prizes.
  • You’ve won big money in a foreign lottery.
  • This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else.
  • You have to make up your mind right away.
  • You trust me, right?
  • You don’t need to check our company with anyone.
  • We’ll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.

 When you get a call from a telemarketer, ask yourself:

  • Who’s calling… and why?The law says telemarketers must tell you it’s a sales call, the name of the seller and what they’re selling before they make their pitch. If you don’t hear this information, say “no thanks,” and get off the phone.
  • What’s the hurry?Fast talkers who use high pressure tactics could be hiding something. Take your time. Most legitimate businesses will give you time and written information about an offer before asking you to commit to a purchase.
  • If it’s free, why are they asking me to pay?Question fees you need to pay to redeem a prize or gift. Free is free. If you have to pay, it’s a purchase — not a prize or a gift.
  • Why am I “confirming” my account information— or giving it out? Some callers have your billing information before they call you. They’re trying to get you to say “okay” so they can claim you approved a charge.
  • What time is it?The law allows telemarketers to call only between 8 am and 9 pm. A seller calling earlier or later is ignoring the law.
  • Do I want more calls like this one?If you don’t want a business to call you again, say so and register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. If they call back, they’re breaking the law.

Some Additional Guidelines

  • Resist pressure to make a decision immediately.
  • Keep your credit card, checking account, or Social Security numbers to yourself. Don’t tell them to callers you don’t know — even if they ask you to “confirm” this information. That’s a trick.
  • Don’t pay for something just because you’ll get a “free gift.”
  • Get all information in writing before you agree to buy.
  • Check out a charitybefore you give. Ask how much of your donation actually goes to the charity. Ask the caller to send you written informa­tion so you can make an informed decision without being pressured, rushed, or guilted into it.
  • If the offer is an investment, check with your state securities regulatorto see if the offer — and the offeror — are properly registered.
  • Don’t send cash by messenger, overnight mail, or money transfer. If you use cash or a money transfer — rather than a credit card — you may lose your right to dispute fraudulent charges. The money will be gone.
  • Don’t agree to any offer for which you have to pay a “registration” or “shipping” fee to get a prize or a gift.
  • Research offers with your consumer protection agency or state Attorney General’s officebefore you agree to send money.
  • Beware of offers to “help” you recover moneyyou have already lost. Callers that say they are law enforcement officers who will help you get your money back “for a fee” are scammers.
  • Report any caller who is rude or abusive to the FTC or FCC, even if you already sent them money. They’ll want more.

Take action:

Reduce the number of unwanted emails and texts you receive:

  • Be careful about giving out your mobile phone number, email address or any other personal information.
  • Read through commercial web forms. Some websites allow you to opt out of receiving email from partners – but you may have to uncheck a preselected box if you want to do so.
  • Check for a privacy policy when submitting your wireless phone number or email address to any website. Find out if the policy allows the company to sell or share your information.
  • Do not respond to unwanted texts or emails from questionable sources. Several mobile service providers allow you to block the sender by forwarding unwanted texts to 7726 (or “SPAM”). Check with your provider about other options.
  • Use a “junk mail” or “spam” email filter.
  • Consider using two email addresses – keeping one for personal messages only.

While most unsolicited commercial emails and text messages are not banned by law, they are required to include three elements:

  1. Honest and relevant content about who is sending the message, what the subject is, and a physical address for the marketer.
  2. A method to “unsubscribe” from future spam.
  3. Compliance with a set of “sending behavior” practices to help inform and protect consumers, such as including at least one sentence of text and a valid header in each email.

Do Not Call Registration

Callers are prohibited from making telephone solicitations to any numbers on the Do Not Call list. Your numbers will remain on the list until you remove them or discontinue service – there is no need to re-register numbers. Telemarketers must remove your numbers from their call lists and stop calling you within 31 days from the date you register.

  • Unwanted commercial email message sent to your mobile phone.
  • Autodialed or prerecorded voice message or text message sent to your mobile phone if you didn’t consent to the message previously (or it doesn’t involve an emergency).
  • Any autodialed text message on your wireless device, or an unwanted commercial message to a non-wireless device from a telecommunications company or advertising a telecommunications company’s products or services, if sent without your prior consent.

You can register your numbers on the national Do Not Call list by phone or on the Internet at no cost.

  • To register via the Internet, go to donotcall.gov.
  • To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY). You must call from the phone number you wish to register.

If solicitations persist you can file a complaint with the FCC or the FTC

You have multiple options for filing complaint with the FCC and FTC

FCC

  • File your complaint online at fcc.gov
  • By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322); ASL Videophone: 1-844-432-2275
  • By mail (please include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

FTC

  • File your complaint online at ftccomplaintassistant.gov
  • By phone: (202) 326-2222
  • By mail (please include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):

Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

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