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Scams - When Telemarketer Calls Don't Ring True

Federal rules prohibit unfair or deceptive advertising practices and enable consumers to stop most telemarketer calls by placing their phone and cell numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry ( The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other agencies have reported increases in complaints involving telemarketers that may be perpetrating scams or otherwise violating federal and state laws.

According to the FTC, the vast majority of the violations of the do-not-call rules involve “robocalls,” which are pre-recorded phone messages that companies send to thousands of phones simultaneously. Some companies continue to make robocalls to people who have signed up for the Do Not Call Registry, using fake “caller IDs” that make them hard to identify or trace. These calls might be scams.

If you return the call, you might be asked a series of personal questions using the touch-tone keypad on your telephone. The information you provide, such as account numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs), birth dates, and passwords, can be used to access your bank account or commit identity theft.

Your financial institution or a government agency would never contact you asking for such information. When in doubt, call your institution or the government agency that the call is supposedly from by using a phone number you know or find, not the number in the message.

Because it may be difficult to get your money back, remember the following:

  • If you get a robocall, hang up.
  • Never give out personal identification information over the phone unless you initiate the call and know the other party is reputable.
  • Thoroughly check out any offer before agreeing to it. Always ask for details in writing. 
  • Assume that any offer that “sounds too good to be true” — especially one from a stranger or unfamiliar company — is probably a fraud.
  • Resist pressure to make a decision immediately. Here are a few red flags that can help you spot a scam:
    • You’re told to send money or provide bank account information before you receive anything in return
    • You sense a reluctance on the part of the caller to answer questions or provide written information
    • You’re told you already agreed to pay money, but you don’t remember that