It almost seems like a riddle.  When is a “Do Not Call” call a call that you shouldn’t take?  When it’s a scammer trying to scam a consumer out of her or his personal information.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued an alert about this latest scam, which can come in several variations (scamalert@council.bbb.org; “Phony Officials Trick Consumers into “Verifying” Information on Do Not Call Registry”).

Here’s how the scam works:

  • You get a phone call from someone claiming to be a representative of the National Do Not Call Registry (Registry), or from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or from the Canadian National Do Not Call List;
  • The caller might ask you to sign up for the Registry; or confirm personal information if you say you’re already signed up; or might offer you a chance to register your phone number;
  • The caller says all you need to do is provide your name, address and SSN.

And how should you respond? Hang up  if it’s a live call and do not call back any number left on a message!

Here are additional very helpful tips from the BBB alert:

  • FTC and staff members from the National Registry do not call consumers;
  • There’s no “expiration date” for the Registry; once a consumer’s listed a phone number (or numbers) then they’re set;
  • Adding another phone number can be done either by going to the Registry’s website (www.Donotcall.gov) or by calling the toll-free number from the phone number you want to register (1-888-382-1222); and
  • Consumers can verify if the phone number they’ve registered at that feature on the Registry’s website.

I’ve gone to an FTC website (www.consumer.ftc.gov) and looked at the list of  38 “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs).  The FAQs cover a range of issues that consumers might have about the “Do Not Call” Registry.

The real “Do Not Call” Registry is a help to consumers.  The only “help” the scammers want is to help themselves to your personal information for any number of criminal uses (e.g., identity theft).

So do hang up and don’t help them.