When Telemarketer Calls Don’t Ring True

There are federal rules that prohibit a variety of unfair or deceptive advertising practices, and enable consumers to stop most telemarketer calls by placing their personal phone and cell numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov).  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other agencies have reported increases in complaints involving telemarketers that may be perpetrating scams or otherwise violating federal and state laws.

According to the FTC, the vast majority of the violations of the do-not-call rules involve “robocalls,” which are pre-recorded phone messages that companies send to thousands of phones at the same time. Some companies continue to make robocalls to people who have signed up for the Do Not Call Registry, using fake “caller IDs” that make them hard to identify or trace. These calls might be scams.

Michael Benardo, manager of the FDIC’s Financial Crimes Section, explained one scam involving a pre-recorded message supposedly from a financial institution or a government agency, describing some “urgent” matter. “If you return the call, you might be asked a series of personal questions using the touch-tone keypad on your telephone. The information you are asked to provide, such as account numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs), birth dates, and passwords, can be used to access to your bank account or commit identity theft,” said Benardo.

He added, “Your financial institution or a government agency would never contact you asking for such information. When in doubt, call your institution or the government agency that the call is supposedly from by using a phone number that you know or that you find, not the number in the message.”

Because it may be difficult to get your money back, remember the following:

If you get a robocall, hang up. Don’t press “1” to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to (supposedly) get your phone number off a call list. Doing so will probably just lead to more robocalls.

Never give out personal identification information over the phone unless you initiate the call and know the other party is reputable. This includes bank account and credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, account passwords and PIN numbers.

Thoroughly check out any offer before agreeing to it. Always ask for key details in writing. Carefully read all applications and contracts so that you understand your potential costs, risks and requirements. You also can research an offer with help from your state or local consumer protection agency (start at www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer) or your state Attorney General’s office (http://www.naag.org/naag/attorneys-general/whos-my-ag.php).

Assume that any offer that “sounds too good to be true” — especially one from a stranger or an unfamiliar company — is probably a fraud. “Common examples of scams include fake lottery winnings, bogus job offers, and promises of an investment paying significantly above market rates,” said Kathryn Weatherby, a fraud examination specialist for the FDIC.

Resist pressure to make a decision immediately. Here are a few red flags that can help you spot a scam:

  • You’re told to send money or provide bank account information before you receive anything in return;
  • You sense a reluctance on the part of the caller to answer questions or provide written information; and
  • You’re told you already agreed to pay money but you don’t remember that.

If you think you’re a victim, file a complaint with the FTC (at www.ftc.gov/complaint or toll-free at 1-877-382-4357) and with your police. For more tips on topics like reducing robocalls, avoiding phone scams and stopping unwanted mail and calls, start at the FTC’s Web site (www.ftc.gov).

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About Union State Bank

Honesty, integrity, commitment; hometown values that are our way of doing business. At Union State Bank our mission is to be the preferred, locally owned bank committed to providing exceptional service to achieve long lasting customer relationships. The Union State Bank has been serving the banking needs of our community since 1911, when the Farmers and Merchants State Bank was formed in Kewaunee, Wisconsin. The Bank’s slogan was "A Bank of the People, By the People and For the People - A Bank For All The People," and invited the community "if you are not a customer, become one, and we assure you that your interests will be protected in every legitimate manner." In 1934 the Farmers and Merchants State Bank consolidated with the Dairyman’s State Bank, which was located across the street, and the Union State Bank was formed. It was reported in the local paper that "The union of two banks is particularly for the benefit of depositors. All the experience, ability and training gained through many years of banking service is combined here primarily for your protection. The confidence that has been cultivated over past years is now being strengthened." We have continued to grow through the years, and slogans used include "Union State Bank, where rail and water meet" and "Union State Bank, the bank and a half, we give you our all and then some." We currently have four locations. We have two offices located in Kewaunee, Wisconsin which is along the shores of Lake Michigan, approximately 20 miles east of Green Bay. We also have an office in Green Bay, Wisconsin and an office in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Our main office is located at 223 Ellis Street in Kewaunee. Our second Kewaunee location was established in 1996 and is in the Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Our Green Bay office was established in 1987 and in September of 1999 we completed an addition to that location. In April 2004 we opened our office in Two Rivers. Originally situated inside the Pick 'n Save grocery store, the Two Rivers office was relocated to a brand new building at 2221 Lincoln Avenue on April 21, 2009. We have certainly grown and changed over years, but one thing remains constant - our commitment to our customers. We are proud to be the only independent bank in Kewaunee, which allows us the ability to offer a wide array of services that are designed to meet the individual needs of our customers. We offer full-service banking from an experienced, dedicated staff of full-time employees. We still believe in the "personal touch," and enjoy getting to know our customers. Even though we are a small, locally owned bank, we offer the latest in technology services, including our website and 24-hour account access via our "Union Access" line. We are proud of our long history of high-quality, personalized service, and invite you to become a customer of Union State Bank. See how "We Make the Difference" for you.
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