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BBB Tip of the Week

I’ve been with the BBB almost five years now. The most baffling statement I ever heard is this: “I couldn’t figure out how to get this telemarketer off the phone … so I gave him my Visa number.” Um, what about hanging up?

When not to give your data over the phone:

The BBB has heard of people being caught off-guard in scenarios such as:

• You just woke up, or it’s the middle of the night.

• You aren’t thinking straight for whatever reason.

• You are heavily medicated from surgery.

• You’ve never heard of the company.

• You’re distracted by the TV and kids.

Rule of thumb: For your safety and that of your family, make it a practice to tell all unknown telemarketers you will call them back – if you’re interested and after you’ve researched their company.

Want to get some magazines? The magazine subscription industry, which may generate a cold call to you, has generated hundreds of BBB complaints. Watch out for companies that:

• Have earned an F rating with the BBB or are subject to government action.

• Ask for your credit card number right away to “confirm” who you are.

• Use high-pressure sales tactics or are rude.

• Act evasively when asked standard business questions, such as the company name.

Bob Hammerstad, BBB trade practice specialist, says, “When you get a pushy salesman on the phone … check them out at first. If the business is legitimate, they will allow you the time to check on them, and then call them back. Don’t forget, folks, that it’s your money and your personal information. You don’t have to give away either.”

What now: Did you let your guard down and agree to something against your better judgment? Some states have a 3-day cooling off rule that applies to telephone orders. For details on these statues, please contact your state attorney general’s office, Department of Consumer Protection.

More info or report scams: Visit the BBB website at Call (509) 455-4200 or (800) 356-1007.

Holly Doering,

Better Business Bureau