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Recognizing a phone scam

Recognizing a phone scam

(Scams) Permanent link

Can you recognize a phone fraudster? The Federal Trade Commission today announced a new consumer education campaign named "Who's Calling?" that aims to combat telemarketing scams. It features a new Web site – in both English and Spanish – and a short video.

phone fraud logo

To recognize and avoid telemarketing fraud, the FTC recommends consumers ask:

  • Who’s calling - and why? Telemarketers must tell you it’s a sales call, the name of the seller, and what they’re selling before they make their pitch. If they don’t give you the required information, say “no thanks” and hang up.
  • What’s their hurry? Fast talkers who use high pressure tactics could be hiding something.
  • If it’s free, why are they asking me to pay? Free is free. If you have to pay, it’s a purchase – not a prize or a gift.
  • Why am I “confirming” my account information – or giving it out at all? Some callers have your billing information before they call you. They’re trying to get you to say “OK” so they can claim you approved the charge. Or they want your account number.
  • What time is it? The law allows telemarketers to call only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. A seller calling earlier or later is flouting the law.
  • Isn’t there a National Do Not Call Registry? Yes, and adding your number to the registry will stop most telemarketing calls – but not all. Register your land line or wireless number online at or call 1-888-382-1222. (Also, contrary to e-mail messages circulating via the Internet, the federal government is not releasing cell phone numbers to telemarketers.)

Also today, the FTC announced a huge crackdown on telemarketing scammers.

Posted by AGO Blog Moderator at 09/16/2008 11:57:04 AM | 

Can you tell me is this article still true that the federal government is NOT giving out our cell phone numbers to telemarketers or anyone else for that matter? Please let me know. Thank You!
Posted by: Vi ( Email ) at 9/30/2008 12:23 PM

Hello Vi,

Yes, it’s true.

First, your Do Not Call registration will not expire. Telephone numbers placed on the National Do Not Call Registry ( will remain on it permanently due to the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February 2008. Read more about it at

Second, it’s a common misperception that the federal government plans to authorize a wireless phone number directory. Check out the report on this email hoaxes:

On a related note, the Washington state Legislature unanimously passed a law in 2005 stating that radio communication service companies (eg: wireless phone companies) must obtain express opt-in consent from subscribers before publishing their wireless phone numbers in directories. When drafting the law, legislators likely did not predict the recent development of online companies that profit by compiling and selling cell phone numbers and other personal information.

The Attorney General’s Office proposed a bill approved last session to require any person in the business of compiling, marketing or selling phone numbers for commercial purposes to obtain a consumer’s express opt-in consent before publishing his or her wireless phone number in a directory. The new law covers third-parties like Intelius, which we’ve mentioned on this blog.

Posted by: Kristin Alexander ( Email ) at 10/8/2008 12:53 PM

Recently received a call from 1-877-624-4434. It is suspicious. I accidentally hung up, then tried to call them- it was just busy, so couldn't find out who it was.
Posted by: Jan Leenhouts-Martin ( Email ) at 5/28/2009 3:59 PM

Congratulations!! I only have a stupid phone. Good thing I can see the same stuff on the Library’s website!
Posted by: Karoline ( Email ) at 11/29/2011 6:33 AM

i have been reciving phone calls they say that i owe money and that there from a law firm but the number is a cell phone number they say if i dont call them back they are going to call my work its not the first one ive got they have called my work and started to cuss people out i dont know what to do iam alredy on the no call list
Posted by: sue keel ( Email ) at 6/19/2012 9:37 AM

I just received a call from this number listed as a land line in oaks ale California: 818-945-7135. They told me the call was bring recorded and I was under investigation for a credit related matter and would I like to settle the matter right now or BE ARRESTED!? He was speaking very fast, not giving me any information I was asking for, his name, what exactly the charges were , nothing. I did not give him any info as he had not given me any information as to who he was or what this was about. At first I was panicking wondering what this could be but after talking to 2 friends who said it was probably a scam as coincidentally it happened right before the holidays. They said there are fraud companies that get your information somehow and try to prey on people that might get scared into giving out account info in order to not be arrested. I do have a few unpaid bills but nothing I think would warrant an arrest. So while it seems to make sense what my friend says I can't help thinking that this could be legitimate, but if so why would he give me zero information regarding the situation. I have him my lawyers name and he hung up. If anyone is in a similar situation or has had calls from this number or any other resulting in scare tactics and threats any response would be grateful. Is it even legal for them to give you no information or sketchy information even, and threaten to arrest you. Any help again, would be appreciated. Thank you.

Blog Post Manager Comment (KD): On the face of it, it doesn’t appear you were contacted by an actual collection agency. Most likely this was an attempt to effort to extort money out of you with the use if scare tactics. If, in fact it was a collection agency, the agency violated both state and federal law regulating collation agencies by threatening to take action they cannot take- they do not have the authority to have you arrested and cannot threaten to do so. Furthermore, every collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.

Well done! Directing the caller to your attorney was the best action you could have taken.
Posted by: Anonymous ( Email ) at 12/17/2013 12:20 PM

i was called by the same number but he claimed to an officer of the law what?! he left me a mesg saying i got a loan and did not pay them back so i called him n told him off i said he was stupid n who ever was saying i got a loan was even more stupid because you can not get a loan with out a bank account so he hung up on me wow lol these people really have nothing else better to do what gets me so mad is that i am a person who suffers from an anxiety disorder n they just have me so messed up right now ... these people need to grow up n find a job to keep them busy
Posted by: kim ( Email ) at 6/25/2014 10:59 AM

Sept. 9 I received 5 calls throughout the day that all went to Voice Mail. Each voice mail was exactly the same, recorded by someone with a heavy accent and poor grammar. Receiving my voice mails by email, this is the exact message:
"Hi this message is intended to contact you. My name is Steve Martin and I'm calling regarding an enforcement actions executed by US Treasury intending(?) your serious attention. Ignoring this will be an additional check in at the White initial appearance before magistrate judge or a graduate for a federal criminal offense. My number is 818-338-2962. I repeat 818-338-2962. I'd like you to cooperate with others and helpers to help you. Thank you." I immediately recognized it for a scam but am concerned for those who may not. The repeated calls were a nuisance factor.
Posted by: Julia Pomp ( Email ) at 9/11/2014 11:09 PM

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