Telemarketing: Dealing With The Good, The Bad And The Ugly - Bbb - Scam Alert - September 2007

By Mayo McDonough


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It's dinner time, your family or friends are over, and the telephone is ringing off the hook. In a rush, you quickly answer the phone, only to find a salesperson on the other end attempting to sell you some new gadget or service. Knowing how to distinguish and deal with good, bad and ugly telemarketing opportunities can save you time and money, and can protect you from becoming a victim of phone fraud.

The Good

Telemarketers provide a useful service of giving consumers information about new products, services, community events or opportunities to donate. If you answer the phone and think, "I am definitely interested in hearing more about this," then by all means ask lots of questions and take advantage of the opportunity to find out more.

The Bad

There will be times when the telemarketing opportunity is legitimate, but you answer the phone and think, "I don't have time for this right now. This isn't something I'm interested in." Or, "This salesperson is too pushy." Be honest with the telemarketer. Consider asking them to call back, or to mail you a package of information you can review on your own time.

The Ugly

Unfortunately, not all telemarketers are operating legitimate businesses. If you find yourself answering the phone and thinking "A free prize and all they need is all my personal information and a credit card number? This is too good to be true," then be sure to proceed with extreme caution. Many phone scams are designed to get you to give away your personal/financial information or to buy a product or service without realizing it. In situations like this, have the confidence to just say, "No, thank you," and hang up the phone.

In all telemarketing transactions, consumers should consider the following tips before giving out personal or financial information:

1) Know Who You Are Dealing With

Ask telemarketers for both the name of the marketing company they work for and the business, organization or charity they represent. Check the company's BBB Reliability Report at www.bbbvi.ca

Make sure the telemarketer is appropriately licensed to operate in B.C. Not all telemarketers need to be licensed, but if they request credit card payment over the phone or fax they are likely required to be licensed with the BPCPA. Visit www.bpcpa.ca for a list of licensed telemarketers. (Note: You can even do this while you are on the phone!)

2) Know Your Rights

In B.C., a licensed telemarketer CAN only call you:

- Between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekends, and

- Between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on weekdays.

A licensed telemarketer CANNOT:

- Call you on statutory holidays

- Call block their phone number; and

- Communicate with you more than once in 30 days on the same transaction.

3) Know Your Boundaries

Don't fall victim to high-pressure sales. A legitimate company will give you time to think about their offer, to comparison shop, to do your research and to get back to them.

If you do not want to be called again, ask to be put on the "do not call" list. The telemarketer must give you a unique registration number, which you should write down as proof that your "do not call" request was made. If the company continues to phone, contact the CRTC (1-877-249-2782) and report the problem

For more information, contact the BBB 250-386-6348 or BPCPA 1-888-564-9963.

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