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How to Avoid Calling Card Scams
Calling card scams are, unfortunately, very common. They lead to a huge number of consumer complaints every year - and legal action by federal and state authorities is common.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid calling card scams. We describe these steps below.
The basic idea is to find one or two reputable vendors, and then compare a few cards from each to make sure you are getting the cheapest card for your needs.
As well, you want to avoid cards with complicated pricing schemes - simple pricing and 'clean' cards are the way to go.
To help you along, we've outlined a list of 10 things for avoiding calling card fraud.
If you have difficulty finding a reputable vendor, we suggest you consider our recommended calling card vendors.
10 Steps for Avoiding a Calling Card Scam
1. Don't buy cards in retail stores, except from known name brands
Much calling card fraud occurs with cards sold thru retail outlets. This is because it is hard for consumers to comparison shop in retail stores and it is easy for calling card vendors to hide fees given the limitations of packaging.
The better option is to buy cards online where you can compare vendors and cards, read the fine print on rates and fees, etc.
2. Look for vendors and cards that provide full disclosure of all rates and fees
Even online, many vendors do a terrible job revealing all applicable rates and fees - usually on purpose.
Buy only from vendors that fully and prominently disclose all rates and fees. The most responsible vendors prepare a nice table showing all fees - even ones that don't apply to a particular card.
Click here for a good example of calling card fee disclosure. If your vendor doesn't provide complete disclosure, find another vendor.
3. Buy 'clean' calling cards
Simple pricing is better pricing. So we strongly recommend buying 'clean' calling cards - clean cards are cards that have few or no extra fees. Even if that means paying a slightly higher per minute rate, you should buy the cleaner card.
That means you should avoid cards with lots of extra fees and surcharges, even if they are all fully disclosed. These extra fees can jack your costs up dramatically before you know it.
The closer you can get to working with just the basic advertised per minute rate, the easier it'll be for you to predict how much calls are really going to cost you.
4. Read the Terms & Conditions
Many vendors hide fees in their Terms & Conditions, User Agreement, or other similar document. Sometimes even these agreements themselves are hard to find.
If you see any new fees buried in these documents, then you should look elsewhere for a card.
5. Compare at least 2 calling card vendors
Every calling card vendor is different. You should compare at least 2 vendors by looking at the company's website, their pricing, card selection, and other factors.
If one seems noticeably better or easy to work with, then go with them.
6. Compare at least 3 calling cards
You should look in detail at at least 3 different calling cards before you buy. Ideally, you should list the pricing and features of each card and then compare them.
For instance, one of the nice features of ComFi.com (one of our recommended calling card vendors) is that they have a comparison tool that allows you to look at 3 cards side by side.
7. Check vendor's complaint history
Before you buy from a new calling card company, check for complaints against them by other consumers. You can do this via Google by searching on terms like "[CompanyName] complaint" and "[CompanyName] fraud". Use singular - 'complaint', not 'complaints'.
You can also try searching the Better Business Bureau website for the company.
Note that probably no calling card company will come up totally clean if you investigate throughly, so a few complaints are to be expected. But watch for anything the looks especially ominous.
8. Call customer service before buying
Give the company's customer service line a call before you buy. Ask them a question or two: "What are your hours?" "What happens if I have a problem with a card?". Simple things like that to get a sense if they are available and helpful. If there isn't a customer service number and/or they don't pick up, look for another vendor.
9. Test the local and toll-free access numbers before buying
People with bad calling cards often have problems reaching a live access number to place their call. The lines either don't work or are always busy. So, give the company's local and toll-free access numbers a quick call to ensure that they are easily accessible.
10. Buy a card with a low denomination at first to test things out
As an added safety measure, you should consider buying a small denomination card first. Then, if the card works out, buy a second card of higher value - or, if you have a rechargeable card, simply recharge the card with additional funds.
If you are having difficulty finding a reputable vendor, we suggest you consider our recommended calling card vendors.
These calling cards get our 'Best Buy' rating.
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