How to protect yourself from dodgy over-the-phone deals.

I was recently contacted by a client who had concerns over the number of telemarketing calls her elderly mother was receiving. Bombarded by businesses and charities, her mother was either being asked to make donations or being promised extravagant winnings and ‘one of a kind, not to be missed’ product deals. Adding insult to injury, many calls were intended for her late husband, who passed away several years ago.

These days fundraising campaigns, marketing ploys and financial scams tend to target the elderly with golden-ticket offers or emotionally charged pleas for sponsorships and donations.

In a world where scams and identity theft are becoming commonplace, it’s understandably concerning to watch a loved one become enticed by these kinds of offers, particularly when they’re living off their superannuation or the pension.

So how do you detect a dud deal over the phone?

Here are some red-flag phrases that indicate the call could be a scam:

  • ‘You’ve won a free gift/holiday/prize’ – this is usually followed by a request for payment for postage or a security deposit
  • ‘You can’t afford to miss this offer’
  • ‘You need to act now’ / ‘This offer ends today’
  • ‘I can tell you everything you need to know over the phone’
  • ‘You can just give me your details over the phone and we can process the transaction now’

What are your rights when it comes to telemarketing?

  • It is illegal for a telemarketer to call you on a Sunday or public holiday
  • Telemarketers can only contact you between the hours of 9am and 8pm on weekdays and 9am and 5pm on Saturdays
  • By law, the salesperson must tell you their name, the name and address of the organisation they’re calling from and the purpose of the call
  • The caller must also provide you with the terms of the agreement or purchase contract and information about the ‘cooling off’ period

What else can be done to deter pushy callers?

  • Register your phone number on the Do Not Call list. This doesn’t guarantee that you won’t receive any sales calls at all, but it should at least reduce the frequency of calls you receive.
  • Slow the conversation by asking for more information such as a brochure or website details for the company. This gives you more time to think over the purchase without the pressure of having someone on the other end of the line. If you can’t find anything online about the deal they’re offering or if they’re not willing to send you more information, don’t proceed with the purchase.
  • Talk to a friend, family member or financial professional before signing up for deals or making purchases over the phone. Their may be impacts on your finances that you haven’t considered. A second opinion never hurts.
  • Never agree to send money to a company for any reason if they’re telling you you’ve won something for free. Free is free, there should be no reason for you to pay money to secure your prize or cover postage.
  • As a rule of thumb, never give out personal details or financial information (including bank account numbers and credit card details) over the phone. It’s very hard to know exactly who you’re talking to and for this reason, many banks and legitimate companies don’t carry out transactions over the phone.

If you’d like to know more information about your rights when it comes to telemarketing and sales, or to register you number on the Do Not Call list, click here.

John Littleproud

Posted in Blog