BALTIMORE - The phone line is one of the easiest ways to hit people with a scam and if you've lost cash, odds are scammers will ring your line again hoping to double their money. The Federal Trade Commission calls them "reloaders", people who dial back into victims they've hit before. Their victims are often people who have ended up on what some call the "sucker list".
According to the feds, reloaders have a few common tactics. Some claim to work for government agencies, consumer groups or private companies that can help you recover what you lost for a fee. But the FTC says it's really double trouble because this second scheme is as costly as the first.
Reloaders may also use prizes to squeeze more money from you. In this situation, you buy something once over the phone thinking you're entering a contest. But the feds say the scammers will call again and again, claiming you can increase your odds by buying more.
The FTC says you should be wary of any promoter who repeatedly calls and wants you to buy more merchandise to up your ante in a contest. In addition, before you buy anything over the phone, look up complaints against the company with the Better Business Bureau or the Maryland Attorney General's office.
And keep in mind; the feds say legitimate groups that want to help you recover what you lost in a scam don't charge for help or promise big results. Those that do are likely reloaders taking aim for a second shot at you.
If you've been scammed, the FTC says groups like the National Fraud Information Center or Call For Action can help you try and get your money back for free. The FTC says it's also important to file a complaint with their office if you've been victimized. You can call 1-877-FTC-HELP or use the form on their website by clicking here .