Scam artists purchase and sell “sucker lists” with the names of people who, through fake promotions, have already lost money. For a fee in advance, such crooks might call you promising to retrieve the money you lost or the prize or merchandise you never got. The rule is against that. Under the Telemarketing Sales Law, before seven business days after they deliver the cash or other item they have retrieved to you, they will not ask for or accept payment.
How the Scams Work
Many customers do not know that a fake prize promotion, false charity campaign, illegal business opportunity or other scam has scammed them. But if you have paid cash to such a scam unknowingly, chances are your name is on a “sucker list.” This list will include your address, phone numbers, and other facts, such as how much money you spent responding to false offers. “sucker lists” are bought and marketed by deceptive marketers under the premise that individuals who have been misled once have a high chance of being scammed again.
These scammers lie when they guarantee that they will retrieve the money you lost, or the prize or product you never got, for a fee or a donation to a particular charity. To add authenticity to their pitch, they use a number of lies: some claim to represent corporations or government departments; some say they keep cash for you; and some promise to file the requisite complaint paperwork on your behalf with government agencies. Others also say they can have your name at the top of a victim payout list.
See Also: Recovery and Refunds Scams
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the consumer protection agency of the government, says that statements such as these are frequently fraudulent. Although certain federal and local government agencies and consumer advocates support individuals who have lost cash, they do not charge a fee. Nor do they promise to get your money back, or give anyone who files a formal complaint special preference.
Seeing Through a Recovery Scam
Here are some tips to help you avoid losing money to a recovery scam:
- Don’t giver money or your bank or credit card account number to anyone who calls offering to recover money, merchandise, or prizes you never received if the caller says you have to pay a fee in advance. Under the Telemarketing Sales Rule, it’s against the law for someone to request or receive payment from you until seven business days after you have the money or other item in hand.
- If someone claims to represent a government agency that will recover your lost money, merchandise, or prizes for a fee or a donation to a charity, report them immediately to the FTC. National, state, and local consumer protection agencies and nonprofit organizations do not charge for their services.
Before you use any company to recover either money or a prize, ask what specific services the company provides and the cost of each service. Check out the company with local government law enforcement and consumer agencies; ask whether other people have registered complaints about the business. You also can enter the company name into an online search engine to look for complaints.
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