Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
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Building & Neighborhood Issues

Published: Spring 1995


CNYC thanks AARP, the American Association of Retired People, for the following article. AARP is the nation's leading organization for people age 50 and over. It serves their needs and interests through legislative advocacy, research, informative programs and community service provided by a network of local chapters and experienced volunteers throughout the country. The organization also offers members a wide range of special membership benefits, including Modern Maturity magazine and the monthly Bulletin. Contact the New York State offices in Manhattan at 919 Third Avenue, NYC 10022, (212) 758-1411. CNYC is pleased that AARP will contribute regular articles and bulletins to the CNYC Newsletter.

"Congratulations. You've won a fabulous cruise to Cancun, Mexico...your cost is only $400." This is one of several sales pitches used in telemarketing scams. Telemarketing scams involve a con artist who calls a person (often elderly) and convinces them to buy something or invest in a non-existent or worthless object.

Some of the most popular telemarketing scams include:

1. The Prize Scam. Usually someone will call saying that you have won a prize. After they describe the gift, they ask you to send money so you can claim your gift. If you receive a prize, it is usually worthless or not worth what you paid for it.
2. Investment. A person tries to get you to invest money in objects such as coins, precious metals, gems, etc. These objects usually cost much more than they are worth.
3. Charities. Someone will call claiming to be from a charity and ask for a donation.
4. Travel Packages. Someone will call saying you have won a travel package. After describing the trip, the operator gives you an overpriced cost for a trip that does not exist.

"At the risk of sounding cliche, you can't get something for nothing," says Charles Leven, AARP New York State president. "Not all telemarketers are scam artists; however, be wary of people who call with the perfect vacation or an investment that requires you to pay a fee. Chances are they are not legitimate."

These are some ways to protect yourself:

  • Never feel rushed to make a decision. The individual is approaching you; therefore, you have the right to decide on your own time.
  • Never give your bank account or credit card number to a company or person with whom you are unfamiliar.
  • Only buy items over the phone from companies or people with whom you are familiar.

If you have a question about a company, call the National Fraud Center at 1-800-876-7060 or the Better Business Bureau. To research charities, call the National Charities Information Bureau at (212) 929-6300.


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