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Anatomy Of A Scam

How to recognize a fraudulent sales pitch before it costs you.

This story appears in the July 1997 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

How to recognize a fraudulent sales pitch before it costs you.

As she picked up her home-office phone in Naperville, Illinois, Barbara Brabec's first impression was that the man's voice on the other end held sincere concern. He claimed to be calling from Visa International, then said, "I'll bet you don't know that if you give your credit-card number out over the Internet, you can't get your money back after 24 hours." This sounded like news to Brabec, who listened further as the man described a type of credit-card insurance he was willing to sell her for $3 per quarter or $12 per year. When he asked for her credit-card number, Brabec's intuitive credibility alarm kicked in. "I don't know you," she told him. "I need to check out your business further." The man gave her a toll-free number to call back--but told her she could only call at certain times."When I asked about the times, he said he had to free up the computer to get my file online."

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