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Preventing Identity Theft Over the Phone

You’re probably familiar with phone calls offering you free trips, discounted magazine subscriptions, and other special offers. These calls are the most common form of telemarketing, and they’re extremely common in the US. Many telemarketing calls are completely legitimate. But according to the National Consumers League, at least 92% of Americans have received a fraudulent telemarketing call—and older women are often the targets.

How do you avoid illegal telemarketing schemes? First, try to deal only with companies you’re familiar with or have done business with in the past. If you get a call from a company you don’t know, ask them to send you information in the mail regarding their products or the specific offer. Before you agree to buy anything over the phone, it’s a good idea to have the offer in writing.

And, perhaps most importantly, experts advise that you don’t give out the following information over the phone to anyone except companies you trust, and only for necessary transactions:

  • Financial account information
  • Credit card numbers
  • Social Security number

If you receive a telemarketing call that you suspect is fraudulent, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by filing a consumer complaint form. For more information, you can call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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