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Madison - Many types of fraud start with a phone call. Do you know who's calling you? If not, you may be putting your hard-earned money at risk.


"Fraudulent telemarketing calls affect millions of people every year," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "Many of these operations specifically target older Americans, with worthless medical discount packages and fraudulent offers for discounted prescription drug coverage. Sometimes scam artists will even promise to be raising money for charitable purposes when the money is only going to line their own pockets."


On May 20th the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the largest telemarketing fraud case sweep in their history, including 180 law enforcement actions by federal, state and local agencies.


Through its new Who's Calling? Recognize and Report Phone Fraud campaign and Web site, the FTC provides three R's that senior consumers can use to stop fraud:


1) Recognize. Learn steps to avoid telemarketing fraud, including:


  • Check the clock. Calling times from legitimate telemarketers are restricted to the hours between 8 am and 9 pm.
  • Ask why they are calling. Telemarketers must tell you it's a sales call, the name of the seller and what they're selling before they make their pitch.
  • Know who you're dealing with. Do business only with companies that clearly provide their name, street address and phone number.
  • Protect your personal information. Don't give your credit card, checking account, or Social Security number to unknown callers.
  • Don't be pressured to make an immediate decision. Just about any offer that's good today will be good tomorrow, too.
  • Get the offer in writing. Get all information in writing before you pay.


2) Report fraud to the FTC and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. To file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection visit their website at or call 1-800-422-7128.


3) Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry at, or by calling 1-888-283-1222 from the number you wish to register.


For more information about specific types of telemarketing scams, and to learn additional signs of fraud, go to The site has information on common telemarketing scams, including two short videos.