Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams or people pretending to be family members. Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money. Some seem very friendly – calling people by their first name, making small talk and asking about family.

They may claim to work for a company people trust, or they may send mail or place ads to convince people to call them.

Those who get a call from someone they don’t know who is trying to sell them something they hadn’t planned to buy, can simply say “no thanks.”

If people who have been called about giving up personal information – like credit card or Social Security numbers – experience pressure, it’s likely a scam. Simply hang up.

Everyone is a potential target. Fraud isn’t limited to race, ethnic back­ground, gender, age, education or income. 

That said, some scams seem to concentrate in certain groups.

For example, older people may be targeted, because the caller assumes they may live alone, have a nest egg or may be more polite toward strangers.

Often, scammers who operate by phone don’t want to give you time to think about their pitch; they just want you to say “yes.”

However, some are so cunning that, even if you ask for more information, they seem happy to comply. They may direct you to a Web site or otherwise send information featuring “satisfied customers.”

What follows are a few red flags from the Federal Trade Commission to help you spot telemarketing scams. If you hear a line that sounds like this, say “no, thank you” and hang up.

• You’ve been specially selected (for this offer).

• You’ll get a free bonus if you buy our product.

• You’ve won prizes.

• You've won big money in a foreign lottery.

• This investment is low risk and provides a higher return.

• You have to make up your mind right away.

• You don’t need to check our company with anyone.

If you wish to call the FTC to file a complaint please call the FTC’s consumer response center at 1-877-382-4357.