Whilst telemarketing can open a portal to increased profits for some companies, I am of the opinion that such methods of promoting goods or services is annoying, at best, from a consumer’s point of view.
I have always taken special care to keep my home phone number private, including having it made ex-directory so that it does not appear in the phone book.
Somehow I still receive dozens of unsolicited calls per month, generally from double glazed window companies.
For other people I would imagine that telemarketing is no more than a mild annoyance (I also imagine that some people are actually looking for these offers and are happy to get unsolicited calls too).
THE DARK SIDE OF TELEMARKETING
However, there is a darker side to telemarketing – criminals can, and do, employ telemarketing style methods to attempt to scam the unsuspecting.
So who is most susceptible to a telemarketing scam?
Well, obviously, everyone is different and therefore more or less a potential victim.
However, the elder members of society do tend to be more at risk.
This may be because they grew up in a more trusting age or simply because they enjoy taking time out of their day to talk on the telephone.
Telemarketers, whether looking to scam or not, take advantage of the fact that it is hard to tell if someone is telling the complete truth or not over the telephone.
Also, the elderly are known to be more trusting, are looking to boost their retirement savings and are less likely to hang up, often out of politeness.
ROGUE TELEMARKETING TACTICS
What tactics do the telemarketing scammers try to spring on their senior victims?
Here’s a few possibilities –
- they may attempt scare tactics to pressure the elderly victim into buying something
- they offer the opportunity to make, win or borrow money easily
- they make the offer time sensitive – ‘act immediately or miss out’
- refuse to put anything in writing until payment has been made
- insist that the elderly person pays a collection agent or posts cash with an insecure company
- the scammer refuses to stop calling the elderly person, despite their requests
The common theme within telemarketing scams is that the person operating it is always looking for money up front.
In most countries of the world this form of solicitation via phone is illegal.
HOW TO SPOT A VICTIM
If you have an elderly friend or relation, and are concerned that they may be falling foul of this type of scam, then here’s a few signs to look out for that may confirm your suspicions –
- they receive a lot of snail mail and email for contests, ‘free prizes’ and lotteries
- they seem to have recently received a lot of cheap items that they don’t really have any use for, i.e. the sort of gifts they would have received as ‘prizes’
- they are getting more phone calls than usual, especially from strangers offering great deals or looking for charitable donations
- they have less money than usual and are struggling to pay bills or buy shopping
- they have suddenly taken out a large number of magazine subscriptions
Another classic from the scammers to look out for is that after repeatedly ripping someone off via telemarketing they will then re-invent themselves as a ‘good guy’ and will then come back to their victim offering anti-fraud services, often pestering them via the phone, much as before they originally duped them.
If you know someone that is being constantly called by companies, offering to recoup money lost to fraudulent telemarketing firms, then there is a good chance that they are being run by someone associated with the original scammer!
Keep an eye out for the elderly – try and educate and inform them and please be there for them if they need you – they may be too polite to admit that they have been scammed and may need assistance in putting a stop to it and changing their banking details, phone number, credit cards, etc.