The Federal Trade Commission shut down a Canadian telemarketer and his four companies that fraudulently claimed to be able to broker sales for unsuspecting car sellers.
The telemarketers targeted car owners who placed an advertisement to sell on community sites, eBay Motors and Craigslist. The telemarketers promised a sale to a ready-and-waiting buyer or a refund of the fee. The fee usually was just shy of $400 and “refund insurance” was approximately $100.
However, for those taken in by this scam, neither a buyer nor a refund appeared.
Telemarketers use clever ways to separate you from your money. They may prey on your sense of worth. Car owners were told that they had undervalued their cars and a buyer was willing to pay more, justifying the broker’s fee.
They may prey on your need to take a risk, for a great payoff. The “refund insurance” lessened the risk to around $100 instead of the full $400.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to protect yourself from telemarketers:
• Research companies at www.bbb.org before paying a fee or conducting any business. Also check search engine findings for complaints that could signal trouble. When in doubt about a company or offer, call the BBB at (509) 455-4200 to see if others have filed any complaints for companies with similar names.
• Resist making a quick decision. Resist high-pressure tactics.
• Ask for more information in writing. Terms of agreements can be complicated, including cancellation and refund policies.
• Register all of your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov. Once you do, you’ll know that the telemarketing calls you receive are probably from scammers flouting the law.
• Report fraud. For non-emergencies, you can file a report with the proper authorities in Spokane County by calling Crime Check at (509) 456-2233. You can report fraud to the BBB by calling (509) 455-4200, to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office at www.atg.wa.gov/ fileacomplaint.aspx, and to the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor