Turning the Tables on Telemarketers

Turning the Tables on Telemarketers

By / State News / الثلاثاء, 28 تشرين1/أكتوير 2014 04:00

RALEIGH, N.C. : October 27th, 2014 - By Attorney General Roy Cooper
Despite all of the ways that crooks now use computers and the Internet to steal, the telephone still provides an easy way for con artists to reach you and try to rip you off.  Telemarketers are using technology to bombard many consumers with repeated calls and disguise where they’re calling from, but technology is now available that could give us a way to fight back.
Many of us signed up for the Do Not Call Registry to cut down on unwanted sales calls, and the overall number of telemarketing calls declined as legitimate businesses looked for other ways to reach us. Unfortunately some scammers and shady companies are willing to break the law.
My office received more than 3,200 written complaints about Do Not Call violations in the first nine months of 2014. Calls pitching medical alert systems and home alarm systems were among the top sources of complaints.
Many of these are machine-dialed, pre-recorded telemarketing calls commonly known as robocalls, which are illegal in North Carolina under most circumstances. Our Consumer Protection Division has been able to use consumers’ complaints to identify the culprits behind some illegal robocalls and take action to shut them down, even though the callers often use technology to make themselves hard to locate.
It’s time to use technology to turn the tables on these unwanted callers by blocking their calls.   Robocall blocking technology is available today, and I am urging the Federal Communications Commission to allow phone companies to use it to better protect consumers.
While you’re probably frustrated by unwanted telemarketing calls, especially if you’ve signed up for the Do Not Call Registry but still get calls, some North Carolinians have lost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to telemarketing scammers.
Con artists working for telemarketing fraud rings, usually based out of the country, may call claiming you’ve won a prize but need to send money to pay fees before you can receive it. Or they’ll pretend to be your power company and threaten to cut off your electricity if you don’t pay them immediately. 
Telemarketing fraudsters will even masquerade as government officials and try to bully you into paying phony taxes.
Shady telemarketers use technology to manipulate (or “spoof”) Caller ID so that it looks like their calls are coming from a company you do business with, a local phone number, or even the IRS or police. 
The result is you can’t rely on Caller ID to help you decide whether or not a call is legitimate.
More than 3,600 North Carolinians filed complaints about telemarketing scams with my office so far in 2014, more than we received in all of 2013.
Fortunately, the vast majority of them came from people who didn’t fall for the scam they were reporting. But far too many people did lose money or give up personal information.
Scammers are also using a new way to get victims to send them money. They used to tell their victims to send money by wire service, but today victims are often asked to use reloadable debit cards such as Green Dot MoneyPaks.
Telemarketing fraud rings located anywhere in the world can easily transfer to themselves the cash you have placed onto a prepaid card by simply asking you to scratch off and read to them the numbers the back.
To protect yourself, remember:
• Never share personal information with anyone who calls you on the phone, no matter who they claim to be.
• Don’t fall for scams that try to get you to send money immediately, even if the caller claims it’s needed to pay a power bill that’s overdue or help a loved one in distress.
• With robocalls, never “press 1” for more information or to stop the calls. Pressing a number verifies that your telephone number is valid and will likely lead to more calls.
• Don’t rely on Caller ID to tell you if a call is legitimate.
• Place your home and mobile telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry by visiting www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register.
• Help us shut down telemarketing violators by reporting them to my office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or www.ncdoj.gov.

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