How can I avoid becoming a victim of telemarketing or telephone fraud?
The National Fraud Information Center has tips on how to protect yourself from telephone-related fraud, including bogus credit card offers, credit repair, job scams, Nigerian money offers, prizes and sweepstakes, work-at-home scams, 900 numbers and cramming (when a company charges you through your telephone bill for extra services that you never agreed to buy). Some tips list steps consumers should take if they have become a victim of fraud. Information is available in Spanish.
Here is a primer for how to protect yourself from charity scams:
• Ask for written information. Legitimate charities will be happy to provide details about what they do and will never insist that you act immediately.
• Beware of similar-sounding names. Some crooks try to fool people by using names that are very similar to those of legitimate, well-known charities.
• Be wary of requests to support police or firefighters. Some fraudulent fundraisers claim that donations will benefit police or firefighters, when in fact little or no money goes to them. Contact your local police or fire department to find out if the claims are true and what percentage of donations, if any, they will receive.
• Be especially cautious after natural or other disasters. Fraudulent charities take advantage of these situations to trick people who want to aid the victims.
The Washington Attorney General's Office points out that unwanted telemarketing calls are often triggered by responding to unwanted paper junk mail.