If nothing else, scam artists are creative. They never miss a beat in coming up with new ways to steal from you. Their latest ploy is to use the new “do not call” registry as an excuse to steal your money or your identity. Here’s what to watch out for with the most recent scams.
You’ll recall that the “do not call” registry is a nationwide database of phone numbers of consumers who do not want to receive telemarketing calls. It is run by the government, and you’ve been able to register your phone number on the list since July 2003. (Though registration was temporarily suspended due to legal challenges by telemarketers, consumers can again register phone numbers, thanks to a decision by the Court of Appeals.)
The first scam is to call or send an e-mail offering to “pre-register” you on the list — for a fee, of course. The catch is that the government does not allow third parties to register other people, and registration is always free. To register, you must either call the government’s toll-free number from the number you want to register, or use the Internet if you have an e-mail account. So don’t pay a fee to anybody to have your name added to the list. If you do, you’re wasting your money.
The second scam is potentially more costly. You might receive a call from someone claiming to work for the “do not call” registry or for the Federal Trade Commission, which manages the registry. They will claim that they are calling to confirm your registration, or to verify that you want to be on the list. They’ll then ask for personal information, such as social security number, date of birth, credit card number, or telephone calling card number. With this information, they can steal your identity — opening bank accounts, taking out new credit cards, and running up debts in your name.