Telemarketing Scam: International Phone Number Scam

In an international phone number scam, a telemarketer will leave messages or play recorded messages compelling consumers in a variety of ways to dial a specific number to collect their prize, winnings, etc. When consumers dial these numbers, they are actually calling international numbers setup in a cramming scheme, in which they can be charged ridiculous rates, such as $1000 per minute, for listening to a recorded message. Consumers may not even realize they are calling international numbers because the scammers often use phone numbers that appear to be US numbering, but are actually out of country. For example, they may request you call 284-xxx-xxxx (which is actually in the British Virgin Islands). As is a rule with this scam when conducted with US numbers, simply remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Telemarketing B2B Scam: Free Business Listing

Telemarketers may conduct a business to business (B2B) scam where they try to encourage business owners to sign up for their free directory service, or yellow page listing. In some cases telemarketers will pretend to work for the Yellow Pages, and that they will update their listing with provided information such as business name, address, and phone number. The business owner or victim will later find out that the service is not actually the yellow pages, and that they have signed up for some other questionable listing or service that requires a service fee. When charges are disputed, telemarketers running this scam have been known to also claim to have recorded conversations authorizing their service, not the yellow pages.

Phone Scam: Fat Fingered Numbers

Every now and then individuals dial the wrong numbers when trying to call a commonly or heavily called consumer number or service (such as American Express 800 number, Wells Fargo main 800 number, etc). Scammers trying to capitalize on this will try to register numbers close to commonly called numbers for services, and setup their system to sound as if it is the actual service the user is calling. The consumer, not necessarily realizing they have dialed the wrong number, may be prompted to provide additional information to continue, which of course, when in the hands of the scammer is used to defraud the individual, and make purchases or open credit accounts using the received information. The type of fraud often varies, and in certain cases the mis-dialed number can be used to sign up the caller for memberships or services automatically, which will appear on their next phone bill (see cramming).

Telemarketer Scam: Fake Bank Alerts

Telemarketers conducting this type of scam will send a fake message that claims to be from your bank suggesting that your account or card is being suspended and that you need to dial a number to confirm and re-activate for use. If the victim calls back in this number they will be prompted to verify account information, including a range of detail, varying from Credit Card numbers, to Date of Birth, Address, Social Security Number, etc. Of course, once the scam artist has this information they will run fraudulent charges on the credit card provided, or potentially commit identity theft by opening new accounts using your personal information

Telemarketing Scams: Fake Teleathon or Fundraiser

Telemarketers will sometimes pose as a charity seeking to collect donations, which may or may not exist. In some cases there is no organization, or charity at all, and in others where charities or non profit organizations in some cases, do exist, but operate in a questionable manner. A charity may exist that will indeed provide a small portion or percentage of your “donation” to the charity, however, 90% of your donation could potentially be collected as income for the telemarketer, “charity” or “non-profit organization”. If you are to give to charity it is best to do your research and decide what charity would make the best use of your money.

Telemarketing Scams: Loan Fraud Scheme

Telemarketers committing loan fraud schemes will call the consumer promising a loan or credit card with favorable terms. In order to activate or receive this loan or credit card, the consumer supplies the processing fee, may be asked to provide checking account info. If the loan terms or conditions do not compel the victim the telemarketer will attempt to throw in a free prize, to help close the deal. The consumer of course will never receive the credit card, or loan paperwork, instead will find their processing fees to unrecoverable, and potentially money from their bank account withdrawn.

Telephone Carrier Cramming

Telephone carrier “cramming” occurs when monthly charges show up on your phone bill for additional services such as membership or service fees from a 3rd party that you did not authorize or charge. Telemarketers committing this scam will trick consumers into dialing numbers whereby which they will be automatically enrolled into 900 number, membership, or additional phone services. In certain cases there is not even an attempt at claim for authorization for you to sign up for their services.

You can help mitigate this from occurring by blocking third party authorization on your phone services which prevents anyone other than the phone company from applying charges to your phone, such as 900 numbers.

Telephone Carrier Slamming

Telephone carrier “slamming” is when customers are deceptively tricked into having their telephone service switched to a new carrier, either through deception, or no permission by the consumer at all. Sometimes telemarketers call requesting you switch, and despite your verbal decline, switch you to the new carrier regardless, which may have large fees and unfavorable rates. You may not even realize this has occurred until you receive a phone bill from a new carrier (because you be slammed), or your old carrier with unexpected charges (see telephone carrier “cramming”).

Telemarketing Scam: Caller ID Spoofing

Leveraging a spoofed (fake) caller id, telemarketers will call victims pretending to be someone other than who they are actually are in order to collect money or commit identity theft. For example, they may call from a spoofed Citibank number, and then pretend to be a Citibank representative with questions about your account.

Scam artists involved in this scheme, once having confirmed some comfort on your side, try to request additional personal information, and try to “verify” your Account #, Address, Social Security, etc. In certain cases they are not seeking money directly from you, but will use your information to open credit accounts and commit identity theft. There have been a variety of these scams in existence over time, with people claiming to be from the Government, IRS, Law Firms, National Security, distant Family Relatives, etc. Below are some examples of how these schemes have been conducted in the past.

  • Jury Duty scams in the past involved scammers pretending to be court officials claiming that the victim missed their Jury Duty date. When the victim replies this is not the case, they suggest it may be an error in their system and request their Name, Address, and Social Security number to confirm it is a mistake.
  • IRS scams involve scammers pretending to be IRS clerks looking for additional information to process payment or received or due, needing to simply verify some of the information provided, they will try to collect Name, Social Security Number, etc.
  • Government Grant scams suggesting to victims that they are eligible, or are already the recipient of a government grant of $10,000, and that to receive the reward you will need to provide your bank account information for them to deposit the money
  • Law Firm scams involves scammers calling to pretend to be from a Law Firm contacting the caller regarding an issue that has been raised. When the victim responds that they are not involved with the mentioned issue, the Law Firm requests additional information to validate that this is the case.

It is best simply to remember that for the most part you will not be contacted proactively to collect any personal information, and as a rule of thumb never give information to someone who calls you. If you are uneasy, simply hang up, and call back the company that you allegedly received the call from.

Telemarketing Scam: Call Forwarding Fraud

Telemarketers aiming to commit call forwarding fraud, will in certain cases use live or robocalls request the caller first dial a 2 digit code, following by asterisk (*) or hash (#), then dial the requested phone number to collect their prize. This procedure allows the scammer call your number and forward their calls to their desired long distance number, potentially international, all dialed to your home phone, without your knowledge.