CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Borough police have received complaints about company representatives contacting area residents and wanting to install medical alert systems.
Police have found that residents age 60 or older are being targeted by the company. Further, they have found elderly women who live alone to especially be a target for this company, which sells “bogus products and services.”
“Telemarketing scams often involve offers of free prizes, low-cost vitamins and health care products and inexpensive vacations,” said police. As a result, police have offered the following warning “lines” for these scams and suggested that residents just say, “No thank you” and hang up the telephone.
- “You must act now, or the offer will not be valid.”
- “You’ve won a free gift, vacation or prize” but must pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.
- “You must send money, provide a credit card or bank account number or have a check picked up by courier.” Police said you may hear this line before having a chance to consider the offer carefully.
- “You don’t need to check out the company with anyone.” The callers, police said, will tell you not to speak to anyone, including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau or consumer protection agency.
- “You don’t need any written information about the company or its references.”
- “You can’t afford to miss this high-profit, no-risk offer.”
Police also offered tips to residents, so that they can avoid becoming a victim of telemarketing scams.
- Residents shouldn’t purchase items from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses, police said, will understand that you want more information about their company and be happy to comply with your request.
- Residents should always obtain written materials about any offer or charitable request. If you get brochures about costly investments, police suggest asking a trustworthy individual to advise you financially. But, police said, residents should be aware that not everything put into writing is true.
- Residents should always check out unfamiliar companies with their local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state attorney general, the National Fraud Information Center or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately, police remind residents that not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.
- Residents should obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address and business license number before they transact business. Some “con-artists,” according to police, provide false names, telephone numbers, addresses and business license numbers, making it important for residents to verify the accuracy of these items.
- Before residents give money to a charity or make an investment, they should find out what percentage of their donation is paid in commissions and what percentage actually goes to the charity or investment.
- Before residents send money, they should ask themselves: “What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?”
- Residents shouldn’t pay in advance for services and only after they are delivered to them.
- Residents should be wary of companies that want to send a messenger to their home to collect money, claiming it is part of their service. In reality, police said they are taking your money without leaving any trace of whom they are or where they can be reached.
- Residents should always take their time making a decision. Police remind you that legitimate companies will not pressure you to make a snap decision.
- Residents shouldn’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, police said he/she is violating federal law.
- Before residents hear their next sales pitch they need to determine their limits, or the kinds of financial information they will and will not provide on the telephone.
- Residents should be sure to discuss major investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member or financial advisor. Police said it’s never rude to wait and think about an offer.
- Residents should never respond to an offer they don’t thoroughly understand.
- Residents should never send money or provide personal information, such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
- Residents should be aware that their personal information is often brokered to telemarketers through third parties.
- If residents have been victimized once, they must be wary of persons who call offering to help recover losses for a fee paid in advance.
- If residents have information about a fraud incident they should report it to state, local or federal law enforcement agencies.