Telemarketing is a common strategy in business today because it can show tangible results. Although Ambit Energy does not use cold calling as a way to gain new customers, many businesses do use this form of marketing. Unfortunately, anything that works can also be abused, and now many scammers operate over the phone.
Here are some of the common strategies used by scammers to draw you in to their fraudulent schemes. With a little information, you’ll be able to avoid their traps!
Ever get a sneaking suspicion that something is shady right at the beginning of a call? That gut feeling is usually correct. There are some offers that are, without question, illegal. These include asking for payment upfront to secure a new credit card, loan or to repair your credit. Anybody who requests payment or the purchase of a product to be entered in a prize drawing is scamming you. How is it that you won a prize for a contest you don’t remember entering? You guessed it, that’s a scam. When in doubt, trust your initial gut feeling and don’t ever give out personal information over the phone.
Some con artists pretend to be associated with companies or organizations that you may have done business with previously, like a bank or retail store. If you ever receive a call asking for verification of personal information that should be on file, this should be a red flag. If this happens, end the call immediately, call the company directly to see if the representative is an employee or a scammer. If you have an online account, login and see if the offer or request was legitimate. However, there’s a very slim chance that it was legitimate.
When you pay with cash, check or money order, your money is gone with little to no record of the transaction. Charges to a credit card can be disputed, but getting your money back if you use a debit card or bank account may be much harder. A phone scammer will demand you pay immediately before a service or product can be provided. If this happens, this is another red flag indicating a scam. If the other party demands payment via debit card or a banking account number, this is usually a sign to hang up immediately and report the call.
Some scams deliberately set up their operation in another country because it’s harder for law enforcement to track them. Others may operate in the United States, but use phone numbers under a common area code. More and more con artists are getting sophisticated about using local phone numbers. Use caution with any number you don’t recognize.
Be warned if you notice a number that appears to be long distance or overseas and take note of your experience during the call. Did the caller seem like they were reading from a script or get caught off guard by your questions about the offer beyond the surface level? Be sure to ask questions. If you’re unsure, offer to hang up and call the number you have for the company. That’s also a good time to report the call if you’re suspicious.
There are other signs that should tip you off to a scam. Refusal to send a paper invoice in the mail, scare tactics, promises to recover any money you’ve lost and repeat calls after you’ve refused the offer are just a few. These tactics are also used frequently in other methods we’ve mentioned above.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: an honest person wants to earn your business by being transparent and allowing you to ask any question about the product being sold. Anything less than that and you have every right to wonder about the quality of the product or service and whether it’s legitimate. You have rights as a consumer to say yes or no to any offer.
Here are a couple options for protecting yourself from fraud and scams: put your contact information on the national “do-not-call” registry by calling 888-382-1222, 866-290-4326 or by going to donotcall.gov, and report all fraudulent telemarketing offers at Fraud.org. If you receive a suspicious phone call or email from someone claiming to be from our company, please report it to Ambit Energy Customer Care at (877) 282-6248. By working together, we can reduce the risk of fraud and stop scammers from preying on consumers.