Fight Telephone Scams and Stop the Calls

The local news recently reported that a new telephone scam is running in Utah. The telephone scam is not actually new at all but does raise the point that consumers need to be aware of these telephone scams and how to fight back.

Here are a few tips to avoid becoming a victim of a telephone rip off.

Telephone Scam Tip 1: Recognizing a Telephone Scam

You must first learn to recognize a telephone scam. This is actually the easy part. Anyone calling you and asking for your personal, private, or financial information is a scam. Legitimate companies NEVER call to ask for your social security number, date of birth, bank account number, or other similar information. NEVER. If anyone calls for that information they are attempting to scam you.

Telephone Scam Tip 2: Hang Up

Once you recognize a telephone scam, hang up. Don’t give any information and don’t push any buttons on the phone if it is a recording calling you. Just hang up. If you have a call block feature on your telephone you can then block that number from ever bothering you again but even if you don’t, simply hanging up prevents the caller from getting any private information from you.

Telephone Scam Tip 3: Record the Call

If legal in your state and the state of the caller you should record the call. In Utah, it is legal to record telephone calls as long as one party consents to the recording. Recording the telephone rip off call is an excellent way to prove your case if litigation ever becomes necessary.

Telephone Scam Tip 4: Ask Questions

If you really want to tick off a telephone con artist, ask him questions. They hate inquisitive consumers. Indeed, they hate smart consumers so much that asking questions will almost always result in the con artist hanging up on you. In fact, I once had a telephone scam artist so irritated by my questions that he threatened to kill me. That is another excellent reason to record the calls.

If you ask questions you are unlikely to get any actual answers from the con artist but some will give you useful telephone numbers, names, or even addresses. It is rare to get information from a con artist however. Most will simply get mad that you aren’t falling for the scam and hang up on you.

Telephone Scam Tip 5: Don’t Waste Your Time

Don’t waste your time filing a complaint with the FBI. Let me be clear on this point. The FBI is supposed to investigate and prosecute people for committing telephone scams but they will not do it. At least not in Utah. I know because when I tried to report the con artist who threatened to kill me, the FBI outright refused to take a report. To say the FBI agent I spoke with was corrupt and incompetent would be kind. The lesson here is don’t waste your time dealing with the morons at the FBI to stop the morons perpetrating telephone scams. It won’t happen. The FBI is just too ignorant and corrupt to help you.

Telephone Scam Conclusion

The best way to fight back against a telephone con artist is to be able to recognize when a caller is a scam. The next step is to ask questions or hang up. Don’t waste any time with the idiots at the FBI, just hang up and keep your personal information private.

Suing Telemarketers

Telemarketers sometimes have a hard time taking no for an answer.  The first step to ending the calls is to simply ask the telemarketer to stop calling you.  Once you ask, the telemarketer is required by law to stop calling.  Record the details of your request for it to stop calling such as the date, time, and person with whom you spoke, and take a picture of the caller ID for later use.  Writing a letter to the telemarketing company can also sometimes help stop the calls.  Then, if the telemarketer continues calling you have proof you asked for the calls to stop.

You should also put your telephone number on the federal do not call list.  Doing so will stop most reputable telemarketers (if there is such a thing).  For those who do not stop calling, inclusion of your number in the do not call registry provides you additional proof of wrongdoing and creates an additional cause of action against the telemarketer if you decide to sue.

If the steps above do not stop the calls, suing the telemarketer may be your only option.  Use caution, however.  If you have conducted business with the company in the last three months or have given it permission to call you, it is probably not violating the do not call rules until you tell it to stop calling.

You can also sue abusive telemarketers for calling you before 8:00 in the morning or after 9:00 at night, for using an automated dialer to call your cell phone, or failing to provide you a copy of their do not call policy when you request it.

If you sue a telemarketer you could receive a substantial award or settlement but only if you have all your ducks in a row.  Failing to have the required evidence or suing when the telemarketing company has a legal defense could blow up in your face.  If you successfully prove your case, the court can award you up to $500 in statutory damages per violation and, if the telemarketer willfully or knowingly violated the law, up to $1500 for each violation.

Such high statutory damages are powerful tools in the fight against abusive marketing calls but don’t dismiss the effectiveness of the do not call registry and asking callers to stop as good measures toward preventing the vast majority of these calls.  Either way, when you fight against these unwanted privacy intrusions properly, peace and quiet are the ultimate result.

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