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Scams and Fraud
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Prize Offerings: You usually have to do something to get your "free" prize. Attend a sales presentation, buy something or give out a credit card number. The prizes are generally worthless.
Travel Packages: "Free" or low-cost vacations can end up costing a bundle in hidden costs, or may never happen. You may pay a high price for some part of the package like airfare. The total cost may run twice what you would expect to pay or what you were led to believe.
Investments: People lose millions of dollars to "get rich quick" schemes that promise high returns with little or no risk. These can include gemstones, rare coins, oil and gas leases, precious metals, art and other investments. As a rule, these are worthless.
Charities: Con artists often label phone charities with names that sound like better-known, reputable organizations. They will not send you written information or wait for you to check them out with watchdog groups.
Recovery Scams: Be careful not to lose more money in this common practice. Some cons will try and help you "recover" your losses from the last con!
Home Improvement Scams: Cons may say they were driving by your house and noticed that repairs are urgently needed. Another ruse is to come to your door and say they are there to check for termites because your neighbor has them. They will report that you've got a bad "bug" problem and charge you thousands of dollars -- plus while you are out, they burglarize your home.
Friendship Scams: Cons set up dating services that don't materialize. Social "get-togethers" that never happen.
Bank Related Scams:
Both of these scams are very old and yet, they are used over and over every year. Any scheme requiring you to remove cash or property from accounts or safe deposit boxes should be checked out with police.
The newest bank related scam involves the victim receiving a letter or email insisting that the person immediately verify all of their personal information, including pin numbers and passwords, or their account will be closed and their money frozen. This scam is nothing more than Identity Theft.
Postal Scams: Chain letters, magazine subscriptions, unordered goods and other offers are all used in the United States every day. Check carefully; read the fine print! Checks, ATM and credit cards are stolen out of mailboxes, cars, etc. and altered frequently. New photos may be pasted in. Outgoing checks are stolen, washed or otherwise altered, and cashed by thieves regularly. Use secure mailboxes!
Vitamins, Health Products, Miracle Cures, Psychic or Long-distance healing: The sales pitch also may include a prize offer. Too often, these are worthless scams.
Phone Fraud: Telephone con artists spend a lot of time polishing their lines to get you to buy. You may hear:
Deceased Relatives: Some con artists read the obituaries, then follow up with a call or visit to survivors. They then suggest that the deceased had almost finished paying for a "gift bible" that was to be a gift for the survivor -- and there's only another $50 due.
Senior-Specific Scams: Hearing aid scams
Pressure/Fear Sales Tactics: (buy it or something bad will happen.) Whenever you make a purchase in your home totaling $25 or more, the salesperson must give you a written contract and two (2) Notice of Cancellation Forms. You have three (3) days to change your mind and use of those forms to cancel your contract. Swindlers are usually well dressed, talkative, intelligent, seductive and flattering. Check identification of strangers. Call their company or agency to see if they are legitimate; look up their company in the phone book, rather than calling a number they supply.
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