Ten Tips to Protect You From Becoming a Victim of Telemarketing Fraud
#1 Never give out any part of your credit card or checking/savings account numbers to telemarketers or other unfamiliar companies, no matter what they promise you and even if they assure you that the number is needed for some other purpose. If you are interested in what they are offering, ask them to send written materials to you and refuse to give them your account number. If they tell you they represent your credit card company they should already have your complete account number. Don't let them tell you that you have to "verify" your account number by giving your account number to them.
#2 Limit usage of your credit card/checking debit card account number over the Internet unless you are familiar with the company beforehand and you are absolutely certain of the terms and benefits of your obligation. Always read the website "disclaimer" or "privacy" statements before responding to an Internet offer. Always print out the company's advertisement, promotion, application, return and/or cancellation policy statements and/or e-mail message before you "send" your order and account information over the Internet.
#3 Read your monthly credit card billing statement thoroughly and notify your credit card company of any questionable or disputed charges on your billing statement immediately - and in writing. Calling alone will not preserve your rights in a credit card billing dispute. Follow the billing rights instructions on the back of your monthly billing statement and make sure to send your letter to the correct address for billing disputes. Credit card companies follow the federal law on billing rights and are not required to investigate a dispute received more than 60 days after the charge first appeared on your statement or to respond to a letter sent to the wrong address. Make sure your letter is dated and shows the name of your credit card company and your account number. Give as much detail about your dispute as possible, so the credit card company can investigate properly. Keep a copy of your letter for your own records.
#4 Notify your financial institution of any unauthorized withdrawals or "debits" from your account within 45 days of the item showing on your account statement. Again, you may wish to call but always confirm your dispute in writing and keep a copy for your records.
#5 Beware of companies that promise they can give you better credit card protection or that they can get you a loan, credit card or repair your credit and who ask for an up-front fee or want to charge your credit/debit card or checking account. Also, beware of classified ads making these promises. Financial Institutions do not advertise in the classified sections of newspapers or area shoppers.
#6 Never send a personal check, money order or cash up-front in return for a promise to get you a loan for you, a credit card, or repair your credit history. Loans and credit cards are given by banks and licensed loan companies that don't use outside companies or agents to solicit customers. Errors in your credit history can be corrected by the credit bureau after you notify them of the error, in writing. Negative, accurate entries will not come off your credit history until after seven years in most cases.
#7 Check with your area consumer protection office to check on whether they have received complaints on an unfamiliar company that you may want to do business with before you sign any contracts, enter into any agreements or pay any money.
#8 If it sounds to good to be true, IT IS!!!
#9 You should never have to pay any amount to "win a prize" or receive a "free gift."
#10 Never give out any part of your credit card or checking/savings account numbers to telemarketers or other unfamiliar companies, no matter what they promise you and even if they assure you that the number is needed for some other purpose. If you are interested in what they are offering, ask them to send written materials to you and refuse to give them your account number.
For more information contact:State of Wisconsin
Department of Financial Institutions
P.O. Box 8041
Madison, WI 53708-8041
1-800-452-3328 [toll-free in Wisconsin]
(608) 264-7969 [Madison area]
(608) 264-7968 [fax]
To report a suspicious telemarketing transaction contact:National Fraud Information Center
A Project of National Consumers League
P.O. Box 65868
Washington, DC 20035
(800) 876-7060 [toll-free nationwide]
(202) 835-0778 [TDD]