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Front Page » September 2, 2004 » Local News » Sheriff's office warns of telemarketing schemes
Published 4,054 days ago

Sheriff's office warns of telemarketing schemes

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Guy Adams

The Carbon County Sheriff's Office has noted an escalating problem with telephone telemarketing that is affecting local residents.

In one alarming case the caller said he was representing a police organization out of the area and requested a donation. The citizen then agreed to donate $10 and the caller asked for her credit card number. After refusing to give the caller a credit card number over the phone, she hung up. A short time later, the solicitor called again and the citizen let her answering machine receive the call. The caller said "I'm going to call back one more time and if I get the answering machine again, I will be sending an officer to your doorstep. So I'm going to hang up and call back and you had better pick up next time".

A few minutes later, the same person called again and left another message stating, "Good, Good job, you just struck out. It's over. There will be a SWAT team on your doorstep in about five minutes".

An ongoing investigation into this case led the sheriff's office to determine the harassing phone call came from a telemarketer employed by Civic Development, a company that is contracted by the Utah Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) to solicit donations.

The Utah FOP is aware of the call and is working through Civic Development to identify which employee made the call. Once the person is identified the sheriff's office will refer this case to the Carbon County Attorney for charges to be filed.

"I would just like the public to be aware some telemarketers often skirt the edge of taste, ethics, and manners," said Captain Guy Adams. "In an effort for some telemarketing companies to boost the amount of money brought in, every effort is made by the company to project the image that an actual law enforcement officer is making the phone call. Basically, they will take it as far as they can go to be police officers, without actually saying it. I would encourage all citizens to make a complaint against anyone calling your home and threatening you in this manner."

The Utah Sheriff s Association does not do any type of telephone solicitation. All donation requests will be sent by mail only. Although creditable contributions may still be made over the phone, citizens should be cautious before giving out a credit card number to a total stranger.

In this case the telemarketing company was legitimate, but there was a problem with the particular employee performing the calls. However, most fraudulent telemarketers work out of "boiler rooms." This is simply rented space with a bank of telephones. This kind of setup makes it extremely difficult to track down companies that have scammed consumers out of money because it is so easy for them to move on to a new location or town.

Because enforcement is so difficult, it is essential that people follow some tips in order to avoid being victimized by unscrupulous telemarketers.

•Don't give checking account information to anyone over the phone.

•Don't give your credit card number over the phone unless you have checked out the organization and know that it has a good reputation.

Don't assume an organization is legitimate solely on the basis of impressive looking brochures or enthusiastic testimonials.

•Call the Better Business Bureau in order to find out if any complaints have been registered against the company.

•Ask questions and demand straight answers on the name, address and history of the company. If the caller is uncooperative in answering questions, simply hang up the phone. Remember citizens have a right to know specific information about the caller and the company. Then they should verify the information given to them by conducting their own investigation.

•Be alert to fraudulent telemarketers who engage in phony charitable solicitations. Be alert, too, about the consumer rights individuals have.

People need to recognize that selling products or services by phone is not illegal in and of itself. Legitimate telemarketers provide useful and helpful information about services and products. The convenience of doing business by phone is exactly what makes telemarketing an attractive tool for unscrupulous salespeople and companies.

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