Telemarketers using new tricks to scam homeowners


Telemarketers are deploying new tactics to get your secret information - and all they have to do is get you to answer the phone.

A call to a home phone this week showed up on the screen as "private name, private number." But you know who was really calling.

"I normally get those telemarketer calls - credit cards, mainly," said one person on the street.

Many Indiana consumers have something else in common.

"I'm on the Do Not Call list," says a phone customer. "But I still find I'm getting them."

Margo Sweeney with the Indiana Attorney General's Office says, "We're finding that a lot of consumers are not able to report information about the telemarketers to us that helps us pursue them."

That's because even if they leave a number on the caller ID, if you try to call them back, you might get a recording like one we received.

"Thank you for calling the voicemail system, goodbye."

And that's all you get.

Plus, through a practice called "spoofing," those making illegal telemarketer calls hijack numbers that can't be traced back.

Now, the Indiana Attorney General's office is finding "a lot of calls associated with an area code in the Dominican Republic and other island nations."

But who knows where they're really coming from.

Something else that's new - that caller ID that says "PRIVATE NUMBER." It's unclear why they're using that, except to get around the law that bans spoofing.

Because telemarketing is seasonal, brace yourself for spring and summer phone pitches. Vacation deals and duct cleaning robocalls are hot numbers now.

A new scam involves callers claiming they're from Windows or Microsoft and they need access to your computer to eliminate a virus that is harming it. One consumer says she just "hangs up on them. Tell them, 'Give me your number'."

"People should not pick up that phone if they don't recognize the caller ID number," Sweeney said.

In fact, she says, it's a big mistake if you punch any key. The telemarketer may prompt you to press "1" to be placed on the company's Do Not Call list.

Don't do it.

Pressing the button just tells the robocaller they've reached a working number and they're then likely to sell your information to someone else. You'll just be targeted for more calls.

Do sign up on the state's Do Not Call list, the Attorney General's office says. Midnight Tuesday is the deadline to get on the list in the next quarter. You can also put your cell phones on that list.

The Federal Trade Commission has its own list. Signing up there could help ward off some of those telemarketer calls, too.

Indiana Do Not Call list

Federal Do Not Call list