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Telemarketing Scams

While some telemarketers call to sell you something, other telemarketers want to steal your money or your personal information. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that fraudulent telemarketers scam as much as $40 billion a year from U.S. consumers. 

Watch Dialing for Dollars, an excerpt from our consumer protection video Standing Up, Fighting Back, to learn how to avoid telemarketing scams.


To make sure you don’t fall victim to a telemarketing scam, follow these tips:


  • Your never have to make a purchase or pay taxes, fees or other expenses in advance to receive a prize. Anyone who demands an upfront fee for a prize is trying to scam you.

  • Never make an advance payment for a loan or credit card. It is illegal under state and federal law to require payment in advance in order to receive a loan or credit card, or to be referred to someone who’ll issue you a loan or credit card.

  • Telemarketers who pitch lottery tickets over the phone are trying to cheat you. It’s illegal to offer lottery tickets over the phone or through the mail.

  • Never give your bank account, credit card or Social Security number to someone you don’t know who calls you on the phone.

  • Unless you are familiar with the company, do not respond to mailings and email messages concerning sweepstakes or lottery prizes.  Doing so can get you on a list of potential targets that is purchased by fraudulent telemarketers around the world.

  • Watch out for that check!  Telephone con artists will send you checks to cover taxes or fees on your prize or award.  They direct you to deposit the check in your bank account and then wire them cash.  The check may look real enough to fool your bank, but it is a counterfeit check and the money you wire will end up coming out of your own funds.

  • Watch out for your senior citizen friends and family. Be especially vigilant about seniors who suffer from early stage Alzheimer’s Disease, other forms of memory loss or depression.

  • Crooks frequently use reloadable debit cards like Green Dot MoneyPaks as a method to get money from victims. Once money has been loaded onto the card, the scammer gets the card’s account number from the victim and quickly empties the account through an electronic transaction that can't be traced.

  • Frequent trips to Western Union or Moneygram or frequent pick-ups by overnight courier services can be signs that someone is a victim of telemarketing fraud. Once a fraudulent telemarketer discovers a victim, that victim’s name will be sold to hundreds of other scammers.

  • Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry to cut down on telemarketing sales calls. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll know that many telemarketers who call are probably out to scam you.


We Can Help


If you or a loved one has been the victim of a telemarketing scam, contact us for help or call toll free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.  We'll work to stop wire transfers or bank drafts by the scammers and help you avoid future scams.


If the call appears to come from Canada or mentions Canada, also contact the Canadian telemarketing fraud task force Operation PhoneBusters at (888) 495-8501.