The Single Best Way to Bust a Telephone Scam

This is simple and effective. If you suspect that the company who is calling you is not legitimate, ask the caller for their web site address.

If the call is a fraud attempt, the “agent” probably won’t be able to give it to you. One of these things will happen:

  • They won’t “remember” it. For extra bonus fun, ask them if their sales manager knows it.
  • They’ll give you a legitimate site that isn’t theirs. Ask them to hold on while you pop it up. If that doesn’t make them hang up, ask them where the information relating to their offer is. They might tell you it’s an exclusive offer that’s not available on the web, but if the site has nothing that seems to be related to the offer, it’s a big warning that they’re not telling the truth.
  • They’ll give you a fake site that is theirs. This would be pretty stupid on their part, since it would provide the authorities with a path back to them. Do a search on the site to see what the world has to say about them. If they’re not in the search index, then the site was probably set up a few days ago. More sophisticated users can do a whois lookup on them… look at the registration date. Also if the site owner is masked for privacy, you can be sure it’s not a large established company. Either way, report the site to your local authorities as soon as possible.

These fraud schemes depend on leaving the smallest possible trail back to them. Legitimate businesses want to open as many possible channels of communication with their potential customers as possible.

So it’s as easy as this: no web site equals no legitimacy. Protect yourself.