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Consumer Affairs Reminds Tennesseans to be Wary of Common Scams in 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 | 09:17am

NASHVILLE – Scam artists support a multi-billion dollar business in the United States and every year, thousands of consumers lose their hard-earned money to these thieves.

“Tennesseans need to be very critical of anyone promising a ‘too good to be true’ prize, offer or investment,” says Department of Commerce and Insurance Deputy Commissioner and Acting Consumer Affairs Director Steve Majchrzak. “Don’t ever share your social security number or banking information over the phone and always do your research before making any kind of payment.”

The Division of Consumer Affairs asks Tennesseans to be aware of the following common telemarketing scams:

Travel Packages. Be wary of “free” or “low cost” vacations that can end up costing a bundle in hidden fees. Ultimately, the total cost may run two to three times more than what you expected to pay. In worst-case scenarios, some “bargain” vacations may never happen at all. Always research the travel company before paying for a discount vacation.

Investments. Consumers lose millions of dollars each year to “get rich quick” schemes that promise high returns with little or no risk. These include movies or cable television production deals, internet gambling, rare coins, art, or other “investment opportunities.” Dishonest promoters of investment fraud target individuals who are new to investing and they often rely on the fact that the process is complicated and unfamiliar. Call the Tennessee Securities Division at 615-741-2947 to ensure that the investor you are working with is fully licensed.

Charities. Con artists may identify themselves as representatives of a notable charity, but while asking for a donation they avoid discussing ways to verify their authenticity. They also may try to confuse you by using names that sound like well-known charitable organizations or even law enforcement agencies, but are fake organizations. Always ask for a number to call the representative back at and call the charity’s home office to verify the individual’s claims before making a donation by phone.

Reloading Scams. If you buy into any of the above scams, you are likely to be called again by someone promising to get your money back. Be careful not to lose more money to this common practice. Even law enforcement officials may not be able to recover your money.

Foreign Lotteries. Scam operators use the telephone and direct mail to entice U.S. consumers to buy tickets in high-stakes foreign lotteries from as far away as Australia and Europe. These lottery solicitations violate U.S. law, which prohibits the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail. If a caller attempts to sell you a ticket, hang up the phone immediately.

Medical Discounts. If you’re considering signing up for a medical discount plan, be aware of scam artists who are contact seniors claiming to represent providers. Consumer Affairs recommends that seniors avoid sharing any personal or financial information over the phone, as scam artists consistently target the elderly.

“Expiring” Car Warranties. Scammers find out what kind of car you drive, and when you bought it, so they can pitch overpriced — or worthless — extended car warranties. If an individual calls offering you a ‘too good to be true’ extended warranty, hang up the phone.

To learn more about the Division of Consumer Affairs and the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance visit: There consumers can find links to file online complaints, the Buyer Beware List and plenty of tips on how to be a smart consumer!

Consumer Affairs is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for a daily dose of fire prevention tips, consumer affairs information and much more!  



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