Everyday more and more thieves find ways to steal millions from Americans each year. Although there are dozens of different financial scams, at the heart of all of them is to trick you out of (1) sending them money; (2) revealing personal information so they can steal your identity; and (3) giving them your credit card information so they can purchase goods and services in your name. You should always be suspicious if it sounds too good to be true.
You can protect yourself from most scams just by remembering a few rules of the game:
(1) If any one sends you a check for more than the amount they owe you and wants you to send them some money back or send some money somewhere else, it is a scam.
(2) Government, police and state agencies do not call you and ask for your social security number. Be very selective about who sees your social security number.
(3) Do not open links in emails from those you don't know and particularly those that claim to be from the government, a bank or any other government agency asking you to click on a link in the email and provide your log in and password.
Fake Emails from Banks
Never click on a link in an email claiming to be from a bank or other financial institution claiming that you need to verify your account. Thieves can make emails look like they are legitimately from any bank. They send millions of fake emails hoping to find an actual customer who will click on a link in the email and provide their login and password information.
Advance Fee Loan Scam
Send them about $300 and they promise to lower your car payment and reduce the interest rate on your car loan. There are several versions of this scam with some promising to lower your mortgage payment or get you a loan, grant or some other type of loan if you send them money upfront. It is actually illegal for lenders to ask for money upfront for the promise or guarantee of a loan.
SBA Loan Scam
This scam is similar to the Advance Fee Loan Scam above in that the victim is asked to pay a service fee upfront for special help getting a Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan.
Debt Relief Scam
These companies promise that they can wipe out all of your credit card debt or reduce your debt significantly for a fee they ask victims to pay upfront. They will take your money and run!
Secret Shopper or Mystery Shopper Scam
This scam is advertised all over the Internet, particularly at job websites. If you sign up to be a secret shopper, they will definitely send you a check for being a secret shopper, but it will be for more than they owe you, say around $3000. They will ask you to deposit the check in to your checking account and send $500 to a third person. The check will bounce about a month later and they will have your $500. The bank will ask you to pay the $3000 if you have already spent the money. Another version of this scam is an attempt to get your checking account number. They might ask for your checking account number so they can make a direct deposit, but they really want to empty your checking account.
Loan Modification Scam
These bogus companies promise to help you modify your mortgage, avoid foreclosure, reduce your monthly payment, all for an upfront fee. They will take your money and run.
Burglar Alarm Scam
Under the guise of operating a burglar alarm service, thieves contact home owners offering a free security evaluation of your home. Actually, they are just casing it so they can burglarize it later. Do not accept free burglar alarm installation offers from companies that contact you.
The Jury Duty Scam
Thieves will contact victims by phone telling them they will be arrested if they don't show up for jury duty. When the victim panics, the thief tells them they can avoid being arrested if they provide their social security and drivers license numbers.
The Locksmith Scam -- Most people aren't aware that 80 percent of the locksmiths advertised in the Yellow Pages and on the internet are scammers. What is the scam? When a person is locked out of their home or car they call a locksmith and the locksmith quotes a small fee of about $25, but dishonest locksmiths will claim they can't unlock the door and try to charge the victim more than a thousand dollars to drill out the lock and replace it. A competent, honest locksmith can get the door to a house or car unlocked 99 percent of the time. You can search the Associated Locksmiths of America website at aloa.org to find a locksmith that has passed a background check, and you can search for complaints against locksmiths at the Better Business Bureau website. Remember that a legitimate locksmith should never charge you more than $100 and should be able to open your door without much effort.
Overseas Thieves Stealing Millions from Americans by Pretending to Be Debt Collectors
Thieves from India conspiring with someone living in America are purchasing old, uncollectible debt and contacting Americans claiming that they will be immediately arrested if they don't pay the debt that day. First of all, no one is arrested for nonpayment of consumer debt in the United States (only for alimony, child support and taxes) so do not believe them. Unbelievably, the phoney debt collectors have very thick, foreign accents and yet many of the American victims are so afraid they will be arrested that they are sending in money to the phoney debt collectors, even if they don't owe the debt. Never, never bow to threats from a debt collector that you will be arrested. Instead, get their contact information and file a complaint with the FTC at www.ftc.gov. Click here for more about debt collectors: