A definitive list of the most common scams via telemarketing


Keep these scams in mind the next time someone calls you or texts you.

But what are telemarketing scams?

That is exactly what we are going to discuss in this guide.

Online scams involving criminals taking people for a ride are growing in popularity.

Not only that, they are also becoming more and more complex as the months pass by.

However, that does not mean that consumers don’t have to deal with offline scams.

They are doing their work in their own sphere of influence with consistency.

Currently, criminals conduct the vast majority of online scams with the help of phone calls and text messages.

Some criminals prefer the tried and tested snail mail method.

And perhaps there is a good reason for criminals moving towards online methods to extort money from unsuspecting users.

More and more people are starting to treat their smartphone devices not as mere devices but as extensions of their physical bodies.

This makes people more accessible via an electronic device than at any other time in the history of humankind.

Our research tells us that this is the major reason why telemarketing scams have not gone away and are still pretty successful.

An increasing number of people are now making use of caller ID applications.

They probably do it because they do not want to answer a call from a number that they do not recognize.

With that said, there is also a huge portion of people who make it a duty to answer all calls.

Maybe it is a personality thing or something, but such people feel obliged to answer every caller and engage in some sort of a conversation.

This is exactly what fraudsters want.

They are highly trained in persuasion techniques.

Hence, once they get a hold of a user, it is usually impossible to actually say no to them or even detect that they are part of a scam.

Fortunately, once you have finished reading this guide, you will know how to look out for various types of scams.

This guide will help you keep your wits once you are out in the wild.

With preparation, you will make sure that you have a greater chance of not becoming an unfortunate victim of such scams.

Throughout this guide, we will reveal a few of the most widespread telemarketing scams.

Then we will guide you on how to know when you have seen one.

Apart from that, we will also give you some tips on how to protect yourself against certain kinds of smartphone scams.

Following our general tips, you will find a lot of success in keeping scammers away from you and your data.

The most common telemarketing scams.

Now, the first thing you should keep in mind is that a lot of the below-mentioned scams target a particular individual or a group of individuals.

Sometimes criminals target multiple groups.

Then there are other scams that involve criminals calling people totally randomly.

Other scams involve criminals using phishing techniques.


Phishing is a kind of scam where the scammer or caller makes efforts to search for information about the user.

We’re talking about information such as banking and/or other personal information.

Once criminals have this information they can use it to carry out other criminal activities.

When criminals use phones to carry out phishing attacks, the cybersecurity community refers to them as vishing or voice phishing.

Scam 1: Congratulations, you have just won a foreign lottery ticket

This is one of our favorite cons that we like to expose a lot.

In this, a caller tries to proclaim that the user is actually the winner of a huge foreign lottery ticket.

Remember, such scammers can and do go to extreme lengths in order to convince the user that they are legitimate and that the user really has won a lottery ticket in a foreign country.

The thing they want to take advantage of is that in all probability you have never visited the region that they are talking about and where you have won a lottery ticket.

Scammers working in this field also try to tell the user that they registered him/her in the competition.

Other times they say that you automatically qualified for the lottery draw since you shopped at some popular store.
Example includes Walmart.

Now, you must keep in mind that the most important factor here is the foreign country.

This is how these people are able to fool so many unsuspecting users.

There would be no scam of this category if there were no foreign lottery tickets.

Now, because the user would win the lottery ticket abroad, those earnings would have to be brought back to the user’s current country.

For that, scammers will say, the user needs to pay some kind of fees.

In reality, there is no fee since there is no lottery ticket.

But they want the user to pay some imaginary fees.

Scammers would often tell the user that the imaginary fee comes in the form of administration charges, provincial taxes and/or transfer.

Moving from that, the scam caller will then give the user some instructions on how the user can make a legitimate payment.

Sometimes, scammers may ask the user for his/her banking details directly over the call.

Of course, you already know that the money is going directly into the account of the scammer.

There are no winnings as there are no lottery tickets in this situation.

Our research shows that there are many other similar kinds of scams.

Some of them include the scammer claiming that the user has won a huge all-expenses-paid foreign trip or a brand new sports car, but in order to get the car the user needs to pay some kind of fees upfront.

Scam 2: Payment processing scams

This is another con where the scammers approach the involved victim via,

  • Text
  • Phone
  • Email

They do it so that they are able to process reasonably-sized payments on behalf of the sender.

And they come up with a ton of different reasons for doing so.

Sometimes they will say that the payment has to do something with donations while other times they will say something about loan payments.

Expect them to make a ton of other excuses as well if you ever come across such scammers.

Now, for each given payment that is processed, scammers promise the user a fee.


Most of the time, the fee is either 5 or 10 percent.

You do not need to know each and every detail of this scam in order to understand the scam.

But as a gist, know that in this scam, the scammer sends a particular amount of money to the victim’s account.

Then, the victim has to perform his/her duty and transfer the majority of the transferred money to another given bank account after keeping the fee for their own benefit.

In the vast majority of such scams, the initial payment which is made to the victim’s account is, in reality, fake.

And the victim basically loses the money once he/she transfers the money into another account.

However, the victim only realizes this fact after he/she has already managed to transfer the majority of the money to another account.

With that said, it is also true that sometimes the payment is legitimate and real.

However, that ‘real’ payment definitely has come from a debit or credit card which is stolen.

In such a case, the primary victim is the one whose credit card details got stolen in the first place.

Scam 3: Guaranteed grant from the government scam

The above title should tell you everything that you need to know about this hoax.

There comes a caller your way and he/she claims that the organization he/she represents has selected you to receive a full government-back free grant.

However, in reality, all that the scammer really wants from the victim is the victim’s personal information.

Sometimes, the scammer also wants a small payment of sorts.

In an ideal situation, the scammer wants both a small payment and the victim’s personal information.

Most of the time, the scammer may ask the victim for sensitive details such as the Social Security number of the victim.

Once the scammer has that information, he/she is free to use it for identity theft-related activities.

Other times, the scammer may tell the victim to pay some administration fee if he/she wants to access the government grant for free.

You probably do not need us to tell you that government grants usually require the person to fill out an application form.

Moreover, such grants never require the user to pay a fee.

Scam 4: Advanced fee for a loan

Needless to say, this loan is pretty similar to the previously-mentioned government grant/loan scam.

However, in this scam, the representative calling you does not pose like he/she is representing the government.

Instead, the scammer will call the potential-victim and then tell the victim that he is calling on behalf of a financial institution.

Then the scammer would typically tell the victim that his/her financial institution has approved the user (the victim)  for a loan.


In order to get the loan and hence the actual funds, the scammer tells the victim to pay a small fee.

If you find yourself as a part of such a scam, then the scammer will probably ask you to provide your banking information or send a payment to some account.

You do not need us to tell you that you do not need to do any of that and just hang up the call.

Scam 5: Identity theft enabled insurance fraud

This is probably the one with the sickest twist.

More specifically, in this scam, criminals would call you up and then sell you some kind of insurance which would protect you against, you guessed it, scams.

We have already mentioned that credit card fraud and identity theft have become very common in modern times.

Because of that, these two forms of frauds are at the top of everyone’s head.

Hence, selling insurance which protects against such frauds and scams and other similar crimes isn’t really the hardest thing criminals have had to sell in their lives.

Just remember that insurance scammers are extra persuasive.

They will probably tell you that some scammers have already turned you into a victim.

After that, they will tell you that if you purchase the insurance you will have the opportunity to wipe off liability for thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of real money dollars that someone stole.

Again, there is no need to panic here.

The fact is, whatever crime the scammer is narrating to you simply did not happen.

Or at least, has not taken place as of yet.

You could set off that chain though if you do not recognize that such a person is definitely a scammer.

So don’t hand over any information or money to such criminals.

Scam 6: Secret shopper money

Now, if a person approaches you and then claims that you have the opportunity to earn a total of $400 each week if you just shop at some particular stores then that would probably sound a bit too good to be anything close to the truth right?


But the unfortunate thing is that people still fall for such scams.

Scammers can usually initiate contact with a potential victim via,

  • Phone
  • Text
  • Email

Now, once the potential victim agrees to become that special and secret shopper, the scammer promises to send him/her a money order or check to receive a large-ish sum of money.

Our research shows that the amount on the check can go as high as $2000 and sometimes even higher.

The scammer then tells the victim to keep a portion of the money as a fee.

Typically, this would net the victim a couple of hundred dollars.

Then, the scammer tries to convince the user that he/she would have to spend the rest of the money at specific banks, stores or other kinds of service providers.

As the last step, the scammer wants the user to report on the stores’ customer service.

Some of the tasks that the scammer may want the user or the victim to carry out include sending a specific amount of money back to their own (scammer’s) account and/or purchasing different types of gift cards and then sending the numbers of those gift cards to their employer (which is the fraudster himself/herself).

Now, to make this scam seem even more believable and valid-looking, scammers give other instructions to the victim and tell him/her to simply purchase specific items and then keep those items for themselves.

You may not need more explanation then eventually, once scammers have managed to make the victim spend most of the money and/or hand back most of the money via different forms, the actual check that they gave the victim turns out to be a fake one.

The important thing that you need to note here is that it might take a couple of weeks or more for you or the victim to find out if the check is real or not.

And it is not real, as we have tried to convince you so far.

It doesn’t really matter if your bank has cleared that check or not.

Scam 7: No hang-up or voice phishing scam

Our research shows that this scam is slightly more sophisticated than some of the other scams that we have mentioned in this list.

Basically, it involves criminals hijacking your (in other words, the victim’s) phone line.

Generally speaking, the scammer would call and pretend that he/she is someone speaking from the potential victim’s bank.

What the caller or the spammer actually wants the user or the potential victim to do is to become sufficiently suspicious and then call your specific bank in order to check if everything is alright or is there some sort of an issue with something.

Now, the problem here is that the scammer or the caller has already managed to hijack your phone line.

Moreover, he/she probably has not hung up the call either.

Hence, in such a situation, the victim tends to think that he/she is speaking to a legitimate bank representative.

However, you do not need us to tell you that the victim is actually speaking to a scammer rather than a bank officer.

As per standard operating procedures, the scammer would ask a couple of questions from the user so that he/she is able to ‘authenticate’ the user’s account.

Once the victim complies, the scammer would have enough information to actually drain all the money from his/her bank account.

Some other less common telemarketing scams.

The scams that we have mentioned above involve a scammer calling someone and then trying to sell something to the person.

Most of the time, the thing they want to sell you is either a service or a product.

Other times, they call you and pose as representatives of some service.

By now, you should get the general idea that the vast majority of scams actually initiate over the telephone line.

Here are a couple of more scams that you should be aware of in order to keep yourself safe and probably happy as well.

Robocall scam

A lot of people seem to think that the Robocall scam method is not an awfully sophisticated method of duping someone.

And we’ll agree.

It is not.

But the thing is:
Robocalls are automated.

That means they have the potential of reaching far more people than any other kind of cold call scam methods.

This is perhaps also the reason why Robocall scams have such variety to them.

All of them do involve automated messages but these automated messages are different for different users.

Moreover, the messages play either when the user checks his/her voicemail or answers the phone.


There is one scam that tries to target people who have Chinese surnames.

And the Robocall message for this scam apparently comes from the official Chinese Consulate (of course, it does not).

The message threatens the victim that if they do not pay up the money they would face consequences for their actions.

They are also told that they will get arrested if they ever travel back to their country, China.

It turns out, there are many other similar kinds of scams that involve scammers or criminals posing as legitimate immigration officials spread all over the globe.

One other such scam scheme in the US involves the IRS or Internal Revenue Service.

In the UK, the scam changes to the HMRC or HM Revenue and Customers.

You get the idea.

The Robocall scam methods change to the given country’s tax authorities and other such organizations.

Most of the time, the message that they put out in the robocall informs the user to call some number.

And the majority of such calls would claim that the user, or the potential victim, hs actually committed a tax-related crime.

And as a consequence of that crime, the potential victim faces serious legal action if the victim refuses to follow the shown instructions.

Our research shows that the directions in the instructions involve the victim depositing or wiring the money to a bank account which the criminal owns himself/herself.

We know that the vast majority of people already know that a legitimate government agency would never ask you for money over the phone and would not use an automated message to contact the user.

But still, some users find such calls frightening.

And when that happens, they usually jump into action.

To take an example, a good number of foreign students in various countries have become victims to these scams and have lost a bunch of their money fearing deportation for not complying with the instructions.

In short, just be wary of messages that are automated and use call blocking applications.