Seniors may sometimes be incapable of making the distinction between a pleasant voice on the other end of a phone call and that of an individual involved in an illegal scheme or activity. And they may not know that such fraudulent actions are crimes and punishable by law.

Telemarketing is the action generated by way of selling a product or service over the telephone. Telefraud is the use of the telephone for sales that are not legitimate.

Telefunding is the name of the act performed when fraud-like sweepstakes, contests and charitable solicitations are executed over the telephone. Many telemarketing scams originate out of boiler rooms-places in the basement next to the heating unit-where most unscrupulous people use high-pressure telephone sales tactics to sell fraudulent goods and services. Both good and bad telemarketers use 800 or 900 numbers.

A previous article in the Times-Journal showed ways to protect senior citizens from telemarketing fraud. Below is a list of dos and don’ts if you or someone you know is being targeted by a telemarketer.


• Help the person gather information to report the fraud to the state attorney general’s office, a local consumer protection agency, and/or to the National Fraud Information Center (NFIC).

• Stress the importance of reporting this crime. Bring awareness to the criminal

nature of telemarketing fraud and help the individual learn how to identify such deals.

• Encourage the person to hang up on telephone solicitations that seem unreal or too good to be true.

• Have a heart-to-heart, calm and peaceful discussion about the person’s finances and try to come to an agreement about the best way to handle finances in the future. If the senior seems incompetent, seek legal advice. If necessary, insist that the person change his/her telephone number.


• Blame or accuse the person of being stupid, greedy or foolish. Telemarketing swindlers are good at what they do and take advantage of a person’s honesty, politeness and hopefulness.

• Threaten to take away the person’s financial or physical independence. This may only make the person secretive and resentful.

A few regulations from the Federal

Trade Commission on telemarketing:

• Callers must identify their company and product being sold.

• If a prize is offered, they must inform you that “no purchase/payment” is needed to win.

• They cannot ask you to pay in advance for services.

• They cannot call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. (local time).

Encouraging Seniors to Say NO to Telemarketing Fraud 3




While many callers make offers that sound very good, even too good to pass up, seniors

should not be afraid to take time to make up their mind.

National Consumers League Telemarketing Fraud .........................

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