Avoiding Scammers

Telephone scams are abundant and a daily plague for anyone who owns a phone, despite being on the ‘Do not Call’ list.  Telemarketers will try to sell a product, offer a service, or provide free information that you will have to pay for.  Nothing is gained from giving them the time of day, and the easiest way to fall into the first trap is just by answering the phone. This is almost impossible to avoid with people who lack a caller ID function, and difficult for people that do, because the world is interconnected and there’s no telling where a beneficial caller will be calling from.  Despite that it is easy enough to avoid the phone traps just by following a few simple guidelines.

Be Aware of Location:

Telemarketers and international scam lines are often connected to untraceable numbers and locations.  A typical trick is the use of phone hub companies, where the company makes money for providing international lines with a non-traceable phone line that the company provides.  The company makes money every time the phone number is used to connect to a legitimate person when they pick up the phone.  So rather than spamming people with the same number that is easy to block, they have unlimited numbers that they can approach with a different angle.  Being aware of similar clusters of numbers from certain locations (such as Washington, Oregon, and California for the Pacific company) can let people with caller IDs simply not pick up from those locations, unless they know the caller in question. 

Sometimes a phone call might seem legitimate, but may be well acted.  Generally avoid people with heavy foreign accents and poor language skills.  If uncertain about the information, ask for a business address and other details about the company.  A fraudulent organization will not disclose that information, or just hang up.  Don’t be afraid to secure facts if you don’t trust them.  

Never use the Affirmative:

Occasionally really devious scam companies will record the call and manipulate the person that answers the phone into saying ‘yes’ and other confirmation replies.  If they know your credit card number from some other dealing on the web, then they just need the audio confirmation to use the number to secure a transaction without your consent.  Play it safe by not answering direct questions from an unknown caller.  If they ask if ‘such and such’ is there, reply with ‘speaking’.  This lets them know you have answered and doesn’t provide them with valuable recorded material.

Sometimes this method is helpful in identifying those scammers as well, since they will pause and even try to ask again.  This usually is followed by a delay or an awkward pause since they are confused that you aren’t following what they assume to be protocol.  They might need a certain number of ‘yes’ recordings for variety, and you’ve just denied them the first one. 

Never do Business Over the Phone:

The general rule of thumb, is that unless you called the company you know, or that you were expecting a call, you should never do business over the phone.  This means that you do not disclose personal information, credit card and/or bank numbers, and important addresses.  Don’t accept anything free or let them record you for verification unless it is a prearranged business transaction.  If you are uncertain if it is valid, express your unease and ask if there is an alternative method.  A legitimate business usually has an alternate method and are likely to understand.  People that take offense or say the phone is the only way are the scam businesses.

Limit Exposure:

The last way to avoid the scams is to not let your information slip to more companies.  Web transactions must be read thoroughly and you must be wary of tie in side deals, such as the option to hear about ‘more free offers’ and other possible contacts.  Some job search engines are the same, and make money from the ads and affiliate companies.  Submitting a resume into some boards ends up sending your information to sister sites and sketchy companies.  Unsecured web transactions or companies that are questionable may provide their service, but might also pass your information to other partners, which in turn equals spam email and telemarketing phone calls.  Being careful and insightful is a good way to avoid letting your information reach the wrong people.

Source Information:  Years of personal experiences with telemarketer traps and tricks.  Being bombarded by telemarketing calls nearly everyday and learning what works along the way.