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Scam alert: telemarketers banking on your misdial

Delta Dental warns consumers to double check digits & beware of look-alike phone numbers

OAK BROOK,Illinois- Misdialing a phone number to your insurance company could cost you – and an emerging type of telemarketing practice is banking on it. A news report of a misdial to Delta Dental that landed someone right into the hands of the scam, has revealed a slew of look-alike phone numbers that may be off by just one digit, have reversed numerals or use a different toll-free number such as an “800” when the actual number “866.”

In addition to Delta Dental, reports of banks, major retailers and even airlines are being targeted by this kind of telemarketing, flipping the roles and counting on
consumers to contact them via a misdialed phone number.

Once on the phone, before the consumer even learns their call didn’t connect with the intended company, the telemarketers often offer up gift cards, free vacations or free medical alert bracelets with a catch, they just need consumer’s credit card information – often times for subscriptions or programs that carry a hefty price-tag.

Some tips:

First, always double-check the phone number – including the area code. Some sure-fire warning signs for the look-alike call:

  • Gifts: You are greeted by an operator who doesn't mention by name the company or agency you think you've called, but instead congratulates you for being selected to win a prize.
  • Credit card: You are offered a prize or “free” product but are first required to provide a credit card for “shipping costs” or a great deal on a purchase or program, with little to no mention of the ongoing charges that will hit your card.
  • Personal information:You are asked to provide personal information such as your birth date or Social Security number.*

*Some of the information in the tips comes from an article by Sid Kirchheimer, author of Scam-Proof Your Life.