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What is Telemarketing Fraud?

Telemarketing fraud is when salespeople promise products that they cannot deliver in exchange for guaranteed payment.
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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2014
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Telemarketing fraud is fraud perpetrated over the telephone by a person who is trying to trick a victim for financial gain. While many legitimate companies do conduct business by telemarketing programs, there are others out there who exploit the anonymity that telephones offer and seek to cheat people out of money. This can be done by outright theft or by identity theft.

There are many telemarketing fraud schemes that are perpetrated on a daily basis, with the end result being the same. The person committing the telemarketing fraud promises a product or service offered at a deal thought too good to be true, in return for a secured form of payment. In some cases, this will be a guaranteed cashier's check, money order or even cash. In other cases, it may be a check or credit card.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has noted that there are often similar themes running through multiple telemarketing scams. First, the caller will always try to get you to act right away. Second, the caller may discourage you from trying to research the reputation of the company. Third, the caller may try to get financial information from you directly over the phone.

There are a number of tips offered to prevent telemarketing fraud. One of the easiest ones is to never buy from a company that you are not familiar with. If you must deal with an unfamiliar company, the key then is to make sure you do the research before handing over financial information.

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Many telemarketing fraud schemes take the advantage of operating under the guise of a charity, especially during the holiday season. These are usually very easy to identify. If you are interested in giving money to such an organization, simply ask for a phone number where you can call back to verify they are who they say they are. If they are unwilling to give one, chances are they are not a reputable organization seeking money.

Reporting telemarketing fraud can be done in a number of different ways. If you feel you have been victimized, the first step is to visit your local law enforcement office. If the crime is big enough and may have violated federal laws, such as interstate commerce laws, going to the FBI is another alternative. Another alternative is to contact the National Consumers League, which has a fraud center that keeps a database of such reports, which can be used to help others who find themselves in similar situations.

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