How to Track Down Scam Telephone Telemarketers

By Barbara Kellam-Scott - Updated June 05, 2017
Young  woman irritated by annoying phone call

An attempted telemarketing scam is not a crime, but once money is paid to a scammer, it becomes prosecutable. The Federal Trade Commission advises that you don't track down scammers yourself but instead report the call to the FTC and your state's attorney general. Placing your phone numbers on the national "Do Not Call" registry will limit fraudulent and even legitimate telemarketing calls. Call 1-888-382-1222 from any cellular or land-line number you wish to register, or go to donotcall.gov and register all of your numbers at once.

Ask the telemarketer for a number where you can call back. If you already have the number from caller ID, check that the numbers match. Call back to test the number. Check that the phone is answered with the same company name you were given. If you don't have caller ID, dial *69 for the last number that called your line. This incurs a small fee from your telephone provider.

Note the time and date of each call you receive or make to the telemarketer.

If fraud is suspected, you may wish to keep the caller on the line in order to gather additional information. Don't make any promises or give the caller personal information such as your social security number, bank account or routing numbers, or credit card information. A common phone scam promises a valuable prize if you will give this information or otherwise send a "shipping and handling" fee. If the scammer gives you an address to which you are to wire money, be sure to report this to authorities.

Call your telephone provider to report nuisance calls, especially if the scammer calls you repeatedly or over several days.

Report scam calls by visiting the FTC's complaint assistant website www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. From the drop down menu, select the category of complaint – either "scams and rip offs" or "unwanted telemarketing, text or spam." You can also report scams to your state attorney general's office by visiting the "report fraud" section of their website.

Answer the questions in the online FTC complaint assistant. Your information is added to an FTC database called consumer sentinel, where the leads will be available to more than a thousand authorities for enforcement of civil and criminal law.

About the Author

Barbara Kellam-Scott has written since 1981 for print publications including "MassBay Antiques" and the award-winning corporate science magazine "Bellcore EXCHANGE." She writes as an advocate and lay Bible scholar in the Presbyterian Church. Kellam-Scott holds a Bachelor of Arts in intercultural studies from Ramapo College of New Jersey and conducted graduate work in sociology, theology and Biblical Hebrew.

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