Free Gift Delivery: Phone Scam Overview
Scammers have found no shortage of ways to exploit vulnerable seniors. They often take advantage of needy seniors by promising free medical alert bracelets, free groceries, and other free gifts. Like with the lottery phone scam, after their victims express an interest, they try to pressure them into paying for overpriced products and services instead.
How Does the Free Gift Delivery Phone Scam Work?
The people behind these scams get names of elderly residents. Sometimes the scammers will acquire names through mailers that they send out, and other times it will be via calling centers that they worked for.
These callers know that as a group, seniors are more trusting. Therefore, they're more likely to fall for scams that promise something for free.
The scammer will call out of the blue and promise very enticing gifts for free. The gifts may range from a monthly subscription of something to a hearing aid, and everything in between. The caller will promise that there are no strings attached. The senior simply has to confirm their address and pay a small shipping fee so that the company can drop the gifts off.
In reality, the scammer never intends to deliver any free gifts. They plan to take the senior’s financial information and carry out fraudulent charges. The free gift they promised is non-existent, or it’s not free at all and is actually quite costly.
There are more sinister variations of this scam. The caller could also visit the senior’s home to rob them, but fortunately these scams are less common.
How to Protect Yourself From the Scam
If you're a senior, you're more likely to be targeted by scammers. It's important to be on your guard whenever a telemarketer calls you. Here are some things to keep in mind when on a call and warning signs of the free gifts scam:
Never give your address over the phone.
It's easy to let your guard down when somebody is promising you something for free. However, you should never give your home address to a stranger over the phone.
Expect a catch.
Companies almost never give free products to strangers over the phone. You should be skeptical of anyone who calls and offers you something for free.
Refuse any charges.
If a company offers you something for free, you shouldn't pay anything for it. Never use your credit card to pay for it.
How to Report the Scam
Free gift scams violate both federal and state laws. Since in some cases a courier is used in the scam, there is a strong possibility that the rest of the criminals are acting locally. You should contact your local police department and file a report with the FTC.
If you’re unsure about a phone call you received offering a free gift delivery hang up and search for information on the number that called you before giving any personal information to the caller. You can run a reverse phone lookup on the number to check for potential scam activity in our online phone book.
If you have an iPhone you can download our free iPhone caller ID app to help block unwanted calls, avoid possible phone fraud, and let others in your community know about scams.