Phone Scams
Do any of these sound familiar?

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz Assemblyman

Dear Friend,

Telemarketing has reached epidemic levels ó to a point where you cannot sit down to eat without being interrupted.

Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to high pressure sales pitches from telemarketers.

To stop these unwanted calls and protect consumers, the state Legislature created the No Telemarketing Sales Solicitation Call Statewide Registry.

This law, which went into effect April 1, 2001, established a "Do Not Call" registry prohibiting telemarket-ers from making unsolicited phone calls to anyone on it. This is a FREE service.

In this brochure, I have enclosed some important tips and phone numbers to help you if you think you might be a victim of a phone scam.

If you have any questions about telemarketing scams or other concerns, please call my office. Remember the old saying ó if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

Jeffrey Dinowitz

Tips for Spotting a Scam

Be suspicious when:

  • The company has a name that is intended to sound like a government agency or a well-known company
  • You must act on the offer the same day
  • The telemarketer acts like he or she has done business with you before
  • The company is unwilling to send you written information on the offer
  • The caller asks you for your credit card number as identification for purchases
  • Someone claims you have won a prize and you havenít entered a contest
  • Someone asks for your calling card or credit card number to qualify you for a prize
  • A telemarketer asks for your social security number so you can purchase products or qualify for prizes
  • You have to pay a fee before you receive complimentary goods or services

What You Should Know About
Telemarketing Scams

While most phone sales pitches are made on behalf of legitimate organizations offering bona fide products and services, many sales calls are frauds. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers lose more than $40 billion a year to telemarketing fraud.

Telemarketing scams range from fraudulent charity appeals, to bogus vacation and prize awards for small cash "deposits," to shady investment lures.

Committing telemarketing fraud is easy for unscrupulous promoters, since they have access to telephone directories, mailing lists and "sucker lists" (which list consumers who have been scammed before).

For example, under high-pressure tactics, unwary consumers may be asked to respond to a fraudulent promotion by sending a "prepayment" or "refundable" deposit. If you are the unfortunate victim of a scam, you will be very disappointed when you find out that your prize or investment was misrepresented, and is overpriced or worthless.

How You Can Find Out If The Call Is Legitimate

To verify the legitimacy of the promoter, contact your local Better Business Bureau (BBB), attorney generalís office or consumer protection organization.

The "Telemarketing Sales Rule"

  • Telemarketers may only call between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • They must tell you they are selling something (and whoís doing the selling) before they make their pitch
  • Itís illegal for a telemarketer to call you back after youíve told them not to
  • Before you pay for any products or services, you must be told of their total cost and restrictions
  • Itís illegal for a telemarketer to block their identification on your caller identification box

Free "Do Not Call" Registry
Stops Unwanted Sales Calls

A recently enacted "Do Not Call" Law enables consumers to stop most unsolicited sales calls by getting on a statewide registry. Under this law, telemarketing firms can be fined up to $2,000 if they call a home listed on the statewide Do Not Call Registry.

There is no cost to get on the Do Not Call Registry, which is administered by the NYS Consumer Protection Board (CPB). To register, you can:

  • call the CPB toll-free at:
    1-86-NO CALL NY (1-866-622-5569)
  • contact the CPB website at:, or
  • write to the CPB at:
    Do Not Call Registry
    PO Box 2078
    Albany, NY 12220-0078
    (Be sure to include your name, address and the telephone numbers you want placed on the registry).

What You Can Do To Avoid Being Scammed
  • Donít send any money or give out your credit card or checking account numbers to the caller
  • Ask the telemarketer to send additional written information about the company and its product and services to you, and always take the time to thoroughly investigate the company before responding to any unsolicited offer
  • Donít make a hasty purchasing decision
  • Donít send money or give out personal or credit information over the phone to any unfamiliar person or company
  • Proceed with caution if the caller uses "high-pressure" language, such as "act now," "send your money today," or "we need your credit card or bank account number right away"
  • Call your local Better Business Bureau, consumer protection agency, and state attorney generalís office to check on the telemarketer before accepting any offers or solicitations
  • Report any fraudulent scams to law enforcement
  • If you are not interested in the offer, interrupt the caller and say you are not interested. Ask the caller to take your name off their list if you donít want to be called again
  • Donít be intimidated by the caller, and donít be afraid to hang up the telephone
  • Report questionable telemarketing companies to the Better Business Bureau and send a detailed complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Ringing Phone Anyone can be a victim of phone fraud. Con artists donít care about your age, the color of your skin or your religion. However, older people and non-English speaking people are the most frequent victims.


National Fraud
Information Center


NYS Attorney General
Consumer Helpline


Federal Trade Commission
Toll-free Consumer Response Center
1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357)

Consumer Protection Board
Toll-free 1-800-697-1220

District Office
3107 Kingsbridge Avenue
Bronx, New York 10463
(718) 796-5345

Albany Office
Room 627 LOB
Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-5965