P.O. Box 10981, Fairfield, New Jersey
Phone: (973) 227-1415 (800) 878-9393 Fax: (973) 882-0960
You receive an e-mail verifying that your credit card account has been charged $453.29 for online purchases at www sexymama.com. If you have questions you are instructed to call toll-free telephone number. Of course you never made such a purchase and cannot wait to call to complain about the charge. The only problem is that the number you are supposed to call in in the Caribbean or in the Middle East and is not toll-free. Sometimes you will get put on hold or have to listen to a long recorded message while the meter is running at an exorbitant international rate. One guy got charged $45 for a four minute phone call. Most credit card companies will not send you an e-mail message. Also, be leery of dialing area codes unfamiliar to you.
Two Weeks in Hawaii for $350! Maybe it's a "certificate" for a bargain vacation. Claims of inexpensive travel are easy to believe, because real bargains are available if you shop carefully. Check out all travel offers with a reputable travel agency. If they want your money right away, before you can think the offer through, odds are it's a scam.
Invest in Gemstones with Low Risk and Great Return! Usually, you must rely on the seller and phony "grading certificates" or "appraisals" for information about what these investments are worth. Often, however, they're not worth the money you've paid and they have little resale value.
Been Ripped Off? We'll Get Your Money Back! These "recovery rooms" get the names of people who have been defrauded in other scams and then call, claiming to be federal attorneys or agents who can get your lost money back-for a fee. When the federal government sues scam artists, there is never a charge to consumers to return any money recovered.
Earn Big Money with Vending Machines! Or claims wealth by operating some other type of business that the promoter claims will produce big returns. These outfits promise all the support you need, and they may tell you to call others who have done well with their program. Too often the assistance is nonexistent and the references are "shills" who actually work for the company. Once consumers invest their money, they may learn that there is no market for the business. If the business is a franchise, special disclosure rules apply. These disclosures give some useful background on the company, including substantiation for any earnings claims the marketers make.
Do you often donate money or items to a good cause? You may think you are donating to a good cause, but often the calls are from crooks. In many cases, these scam artists claim to be collecting on behalf of the police or the highway patrol officers. It's important to give money to charitable causes, but take all necessary steps to make sure the charity is legitimate. Get a phone number or better you look it up in the directory. Call the number at different hours to see who answers.
ADVANCE FEE LOANS
We Can Get You a Loan! even if you have bad credit. These scams involve promises that, for an advance fee, you will get the loan you need. But then the paperwork stall begins and the loan never comes. Someone who knows nothing about you, but promises to get you a loan and demands money up front, is probably running a scam.
We're Your Office Supplies Company and We Have a Great Deal! Prices are going up soon, so place your order now. These scam artists ship low-quality goods at high prices and try to bully companies into paying for them. Typical come-ons involve sales of copier toner, copy paper, cleaning supplies, and light bulbs. If your company receives unordered goods, don't pay. But do complain.
WORK AT HOME PLANS
Earn Thousands of Dollars a Month Working at Home! Claims that you can earn a significant income working at home rarely can be supported. Very often, there is a "catch." Check these claims out carefully before sending any money. If it were possible to make the amounts claimed, the scammers would be doing the work themselves instead of engaging in fraud.
Remove Damaging Information from your Credit Report. These scam artists claim they can get truthful information removed from your credit report for a fee. Not true. Accurate information can be reported for five to 10 years. If your report has errors, you can get it corrected at no cost to you through the credit reporting agency. In addition, nonprofit organizations can help you rebuild your credit at no cost.
The FTC has published free consumer brochures on each of these scams. They describe in a little more detail how the scams work, and offer tips for recognizing and avoiding them. Copies of the brochures are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 202-326-2502.
This scheme has been going on at least since the 1980s. Local authorities seem to be helpless to stop this fraud, as it is based in Nigeria or another West African country where the legal systems are either corrupt, inept or controlled by dictatorship. The only recourse you have is to press your national and local governments to withhold business and investment from the countries sheltering this fraudulent scheme.
THE EXAMINER FRAUD
Someone posing as a bank official or government agent asks
for your help (in person or via the telephone) to catch a dishonest teller
passing counterfeit money. You are to
withdraw cash from your account and turn it over to him or her so the serial
numbers can be checked or the money marked. You had your money over to be
examined and it is switched or you are told that it is evidence and you are
given a receipt. You are promised a reimbursement check and thank you
letter in the mail that never comes.
THE PIGEON DROP
A couple of strangers will discover a wallet with a large
sum of money or other valuables near you. They say they'll split their
good fortune with you if everyone involved will put up some "good
faith" money while the con man exchanges the goods for cash. You turn
over your good-faith cash, and you never see your money or the strangers again.
THE PYRAMID SCHEME
Someone offers you a chance to invest in a up-and-coming company with a guaranteed high return. The idea is that you invest and ask others to do the same. You get a percentage share from each investor you recruit. They are supposed to recruit others, and so on. When the pyramid collapses (either the pool of new investors dries up or the swindler is caught), everyone loses, except the person at the top.
Scam artist advertise fake charities using similar names to those of well know legitimate charities. Good examples are using the name of American Cancer Society to cause confusion with the legitimate National Cancer Society to obtain your donations or the National Heart Institute to cause confusion with the American Heart Institute. If you call telephone information for 800 numbers you can obtain the names and phone numbers dozens of fake charities who try to scam away your dollars.
YELLOW PAGE ADVERTISING SCHEMEThe solicitation from an alternative business directory may have the appearance of an invoice. It may bear the "walking fingers" logo and feature the name "Yellow Pages." It also may falsely suggest that the publisher is affiliated with your local telephone company or with another bona fide Yellow Pages publisher you recognize. Further, the solicitation may lead you to believe that your business already has been listed in the telephone directory and you are now being billed when, in fact, you are only being solicited for placing an ad.
Typical language used on the ad solicitations, such as "present listing information;" "prompt payment is necessary to guarantee ad placement in the directory;" "renewal payment stub;" and "directory listing renewal invoice" also may appear on Yellow Pages invoices. This adds to the confusion.
Examine the piece of mail you have received and determine whether it is a solicitation or an invoice. If it is a solicitation, you should see a disclaimer required by the U.S. Postal Service. It states, THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A SOLICITATION. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED ABOVE UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER. But whether you see this solicitation disclaimer or not, be wary.
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Scammers and Cons
Telemarketing sales presentations are actually carefully scripted pitches designed to trap the unwary, to close a sale by whatever means necessary.
A swindler's driving force is greed and they have a talent for sniffing out the same vice in others who, in their desire to get rich quick, are all too eager to put their trust and their money in the hands of unscrupulous schemers. They justify their actions by assuming that victims deserve their fate.
Bunco artists, grifters and cons all have charisma which sometimes masks the fact that they are malignant narcissistics who like to feed on the insecurities and stupidities of the naive and weak. They know that people who are down on their luck are easier to manipulate, and they have no feelings of guilt or remorse as they use all manner of trickery and deceit. They will strip victims not only of their hard earned money, but also of their dignity.
Telemarketers get paid by generous commissions, living by the proposition that whatever brings profit is permissible. An experienced salesperson can make $50,000 to $90,000 a year, and an aggressive telemarketer can make over $450,000 in a single year. Yet often when these con artists are brought to justice, it is impossible to recover anything to compensate their victims because most of their money has gone to purchase recreational drugs or to support an extravagant lifestyle.
Scam operators love to flaunt the spoils of their massive multi-million dollar deceptions. After spending as much as physically possible on luxury toys such as Ferraris and Jaguar sports cars, fully equipped mansions and casino junkets, they generally try to hide the excess in offshore accounts.
The white collar criminal is no more deterred by stringent securities laws than the hardened felon is by lengthy prison sentences. In fact, many telemarketers have an extensive criminal history, including convictions for assault and narcotics offenses. These thugs, who contribute nothing to our society, choose to satisfy their greed by bilking others instead of doing an honest day's work.
A Major Industry
At one point, it was estimated that over 10,000 people in the Southern Nevada area were involved in telemarketing scams. Despite Nevada's identity as a center of fraudulent telemarketing activity, the reality is that telemarketers have migrated from state to state and have entrenched themselves in various states as well as Canada ( particularly Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver ) and abroad.
The scope of the telemarketing problem is revealed by the telephone bills of raided operations which total thousands of dollars per month with calls going to every nook and cranny in the country. Each of these calls represents a potential or actual victim.
Masters of Manipulation
Con artists are experts at manipulating certain human traits such as goodness, gullibility, greed or fear which will influence people to voluntarily part with their money. Because a scam requires the voluntary participation of the victim, you are in a position to defeat the fraud by just saying "no" to the con artist. The challenge is to educate you so that you can recognize that a swindle is taking place.
Conmen have stated that to succeed they need a victim who displays greed, gullibility and the ability to be controlled. A less cynical person might consider these traits to apply to a desire to succeed, trust and a respect for authority.
Evidence from fraud investigations shows that telemarketing schemes use a wide variety of influence techniques, ranging from friendly conversation to outright demands or even threats, to persuade victims to part with their money. Many calls include the following elements intended to mislead victims and secure their compliance.
Schemes often begin with statements to excite the victim, interfering with your ability to think clearly and calmly.
"Thelma, I can't tell you what you're getting, but I sure hope you live long enough to enjoy it all."
"If you recall, you were involved in a promotional campaign and you were promised you'd receive some very large corporate award, do you remember that? . . . Great! Then you'd better sit down for this."
"They told you the man in charge of the place would be calling you. Well, that's me! Take a deep breath now and try not to be nervous."
Claims of Authority
The lack of face-to-face contact allows offenders to impersonate government and corporate officials to increase credibility, and in some cases, to coerce reluctant victims. The anonymity of the telephone permits younger telemarketers to impersonate persons middle age authority figures with distinguished names in order to gain credibility with their older victims.
Older citizens grew up with respect for leaders and respect for authority. Many view some of these phone calls as coming from an authority figure, someone who appears to have more information than they do about something.
They can all identify themselves as the "general manager" or "president" of the company, thus lending further credence to their claims that "Yes, this time your ship has finally come in!"
"I make them understand the importance of my position, being the promotional director. And right off the bat they're excited because when it's the owner, they think of you as the higher authority."
Impersonating government officials can also serve as the basis for subtle or even brazen coercion. Offenders posing as tax or customs officials, for example, sometimes "remind" the victims that they are under legal obligation to pay taxes on the funds the offenders falsely state will be paid to the victims.
Pretense of Friendship
A favorite tactic of telemarketing con artists is to develop a false bond of friendship with senior citizens who are eager to have someone to talk to on the phone, even a complete stranger. Cons are clever actors who, assuming the role of a helpful person , will look for weaknesses while asking friendly, personal questions.
Victims have described calls in which offenders ingratiated themselves as quickly as possible by convincing them that the offender was sincerely interested in them on a personal level. The fraudster will call you by your first name and ask you a lot of personal or lifestyle questions (like How often do your grown children visit you?) as they build both rapport and a personal file on you.
Criminals love finding out that you're isolated, lonely and willing to talk. Once they know that, they'll try to convince you that they are your friend – after all, we don't normally suspect our friends of being crooks.
"I never try to sell anything on the first call, I just make a new friend. By the third call, they think they've known me for years."
One woman told authorities that she did not agree to send money to one telemarketer until he had spoken with her eight or nine times. Another spoke of a telemarketer who pretended to share personal details with her about his own wife and children. Other victims have been sent modest gifts, such as flowers, by cons seeking to ingratiate themselves with people and gain their trust.
Some swindlers combine professional-sounding sales pitches with extremely polite manners, knowing that many older people are likely to equate good manners with personal integrity. Just remember that the sound of a voice, particularly on the phone, has no bearing on the soundness of an investment opportunity.
Con artists know that many people worry they will either outlive their savings or see all of their financial resources vanish overnight as the result of a catastrophic event, such as a costly hospitalization. As a result, it is common for swindlers and abusive salespeople to pitch the schemes as a way to help build up your life savings to the point where such fears are no longer necessary.
Offenders routinely include an element of urgency in their pitches, stressing that the prize, investment, or other item being offered will not be available unless you send the required funds quickly. This puts pressure on you to react before thinking the proposal over. A key to successful telemarketing fraud is convincing you to pay quickly, so they receive the funds before you can have second thoughts or seek advice.
"You have to send that money today or I'm afraid we'll have to give the car to the second place winner."
To get the money before victims can reconsider, offenders often use telephones to process credit-card or debit transactions and for follow-up calls when victims do not pay promptly. The practice of sending a courier to your home immediately after a solicitation call is another tactic that deprives you of an opportunity to reflect on the scam offer. It is also coercive, since many victims are intimidated when a person appears at their door demanding money.
Offenders often use false names, and victims can only identify them by voice, if at all, creating a serious obstacle for investigators and prosecutions. They usually have payments sent to commercially-rented "drop boxes" which can make tracing funds difficult. They will try to avoid witnesses to the fraud by contacting the victim when they are alone.
They may even promise you an all-expense-paid trip to their company's "corporate headquarters" when, in fact, the headquarters is an upstairs office in a strip mall and the company's "Suite 2400" mailing address is a box at a commercial mail-receiving agency in a different strip mall.
Particular schemes vary, but all fraudulent telemarketers promise you a "deal" they can't possibly deliver. Unfortunately, you won't know it until your money's gone.
Unlike the fraudulent telemarketers who try to persuade people to spend thousands of dollars on an investment scheme, fraudulent travel telemarketers usually pitch club membership or vacation offers in a lower price range. The offers sound reasonable and are designed to appeal to anyone who is looking for a getaway.
Contradictory Follow-up Material
Some companies may agree to send you written confirmation of your deal. However, it usually bears little resemblance to the offer you accepted over the phone. The written materials often disclose additional terms, conditions, and costs.
Players in the Game
A "qualifier", also known as a "dialer", identifies victims on the lead lists who have either lost substantial amounts of money or have the potential to, by making exploratory "no selling" calls. A "fronter" makes the initial sale but then passes the lead on to a reloader for future repeat sales. A "closer" is a high-pressure salesman who completes the sales. A "no saler" is someone who solicits people who have said "no" to a prior solicitor. A "takeover" man will step in if a sales attempt bogs down and needs new enthusiasm and a different line to convince you.
How Low Can You Get?
One con convinced an elderly Seattle woman that he could recover $84,000 which she lost in the past to telemarketers if she gave him $28,251 as a fee. He flew to Seattle, rented a Jaguar, and visited the lady at her home. He told her that if he did not recover the money, the money she paid him would be fully refunded to her.
The lady explained to him that she needed help in recovering her money so she could make a down payment on a home for her daughter and her son-in-law who was wheelchair-bound and blind as a result of exposure to Agent Orange.
When a nurse brought the lady's' son-in-law into the room, this kindly man advised her that his own father had been ill and confined to a motorized wheelchair but was recovering and would no longer need the wheelchair. He said he would be happy to send the wheelchair to her, for her son-in-law.
After getting the $28,251 from the lady, he rented a three bedroom suite at the Four Seasons Hotel, purchased clothes and accessories, and traveled to various nightclubs in a limousine with two female hotel employees. He returned to Las Vegas the next day, flying first class, never intending to see or talk to the lady or her disabled son-in-law again.
No Victim Too Weak or Vulnerable
Leaving his job providing brokerage services to a number of elderly investors, a representative of First Investors Corp in Seattle, moved to Massachusetts and opened a business called the Crownshield Company, listing the address of a baseball diamond on the business certificate.
He then began soliciting several of his former clients and told them he had a new "investment opportunity" which he was offering to a select number of his former clients.
Telling them that the funds would be invested in a real estate opportunity involving the purchase of a Housing and Urban Development housing project, he took $50,000 from a 74 year-old widow suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, and an additional $22,000 from her son. He then informed them that the investment had "failed." Both investors lost all of their money.
The funds were not however used for a real estate investment, but instead were spent for his own personal purposes. Indeed, after scooping the money from the widow, he and his girlfriend flew to Las Vegas where he purchased nearly $13,000 in chips at Bally's Casino with it.
He also took $36,000 from an 85 year-old man suffering from Parkinson's Disease. He promised the man a better rate of return than he was then receiving, claiming that he had an investment opportunity in antiques. The 85 year-old man signed a blank piece of paper given to him which was then filled out afterwards with instructions to liquidate the man's investment account.
That account was emptied and the funds were deposited into an account in the name of the Crownshield Company. These funds were not invested as he had promised, but instead were used to pay for rent, airline tickets, or for cash.
Fortunately he was at least arrested and if convicted faces up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on each of the interstate transportation of property obtained by fraud counts, and five years' imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on the mail fraud and wire fraud counts.
The Wolf That Ate Grandma
A 28-year-old man bilked his grandmother out of $131,000 and frittered the money away while the elderly woman was forced into bankruptcy, evicted from her apartment and forced to return to work at the age of 70.
She used up her life savings and took cash advances on her credit cards to give him more than $131,000. He stated that he didn't look at this as stealing, but admitted that at times he was "deceitful and untruthful," saying the cash was for fines, bank fees, child-support payments, electricity bills and rent.
At one point he said he needed cash to pay his attorney because his mother was being sued, then asked a friend to pose as the attorney. He told police that he lied to his grandmother because he thought she would not give him the money otherwise.
But aside from rent payments and a 1985 Porsche he bought for $4,500, he couldn't recall how he spent the loans. He says he stopped asking for money because his grandmother "didn't have any more." She eventually reported him to police after numerous loans went unpaid.
All in the Family
A former stockbroker defrauded an elderly uncle, with whom he lived, of over $88,000, by impersonating the man, contacting financial institutions at which his uncle had accounts, arranging for withdrawals from these accounts, and having the withdrawal checks mailed to the uncle's residence.
He then intercepted the mail, forged the uncle's endorsement on the checks and used the checks for his own purposes. When charged, he also pled guilty to using the social security number of his deceased father in order to obtain four credit cards, as well as to open an account at a credit union. The losses on these credit cards, and to the credit union, exceeded $43,000.
He had, in the past, pled guilty to 13 counts of mail and bank fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud eight investors out of more than $3 million.
The Prison Food Diet
One con man ran a diet-product business designed solely to land his victims in small-claims court. Using a number of different companies, he made a career of tricking people into signing contracts they could not fulfill and then suing them.
He worked the diet scam by advertising for diet counselors at $1,400 per month. But after signing contracts, victims learned they had obligated themselves to purchase large amounts of products they were to sell on commission only.
When people returned the product he would sue them for breach of contract. If they counter-sued he would then sue for defamation of character. He sued over 300 people during a two year period. After seeing him ordered to serve consecutive 0-to-5-year prison terms the prosecutor characterized him as "one of the most sinister people I've ever run into."
I'm The Victim Here
A U.S. Bankruptcy Judge sanctioned a foreclosure scam artist, $85,000 for filing a sham bankruptcy petition. The Office of the United States Trustee alerted the court to allegations that agents of his had been obtaining title to distressed properties by promising owners he would prevent foreclosure and renegotiate their loans, while allowing them to remain as renters for less than their monthly house payments.
However, instead of negotiating with lenders, he ran the properties through dozens of bankruptcies to delay foreclosure while collecting rents from the property owners. According to the LA Times, he is connected to more than thirty bankruptcies, nationwide, filed for that purpose.
Usually noted for his tearful outbursts at court proceedings and extravagant claims about his own good intentions, this time he remained composed, insisting that he was the victim of a government conspiracy and has made no money from his benevolent activities.
Excerpt from Crimes of Persuasion: Schemes, Scams, Frauds by Les Henderson ISBN 0968713300 which is available at Amazon.com More info on telemarketing fraud and investment scams is available at Les Henderson's' site.
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yourself against identity theft and true name fraud;
before and after the fact.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing types of financial fraud. With or without stealing your wallet, a crook can steal your financial identity with as little information as your Social Security number. It is also called "account-takeover fraud" or "true-name fraud," and it involves crooks' assuming your identity by applying for credit, running up huge bills and stiffing creditors - all in your name. Although consumers' liability is capped as long as they take steps to protect themselves, taking the time to correct the damage done can be nightmare. It's an issue that confirms the old cliché - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
In an open society the ability to protect ones self from fraud is limited. In order to conduct business, both commercial and personal, we must provide information about ourselves to others. Consumer education and alertness are certainly ways of protecting you from someone stealing your identity. However, if the nightmare of identity theft touches you there are measures you can take to prevent the extent of harm and, in many cases, stop the thief cold.
We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed using your name, address, SS#, credit, etc. Unfortunately, immediately after your wallet or purse is stolen the thieves will have gone to work. Within a week the thieves will have ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change driving record information online, and much more.
For starters, photocopy, or scan into your computer, the entire contents of your wallet or purse. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc., so you will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call to cancel. Keep the file in a safe place.
Keep an eye on your accounts throughout the year by reading your monthly/periodic statements thoroughly. That's an easy way for you to be sure that all of the activity in your accounts was initiated by you.
Tear up or shred pre-approved credit offers, receipts and other personal information that link your name to account numbers. Don't leave your ATM or credit card receipt in public trash cans. Crooks (a.k.a. dumpster divers) are known to go through trash to get account numbers and other items that will give them just enough information to get credit in your name.
If your credit card or other bills are more than two weeks late, you should do three things: First, contact the Postal Service to see if someone has forwarded your mail to another address. Second, contact your bank to ask if the statement or card has been mailed. Third, contact the businesses that send you bills.
When you pay bills, don't put them in your mailbox with the red flag up. That's a flashing neon light telling crooks to grab your identification number (PIN) on your ATM or debit card. Don't write your Social Security number or credit card account number on a check. Cover your hand when you are entering your PIN number at an ATM.
Never provide personal or credit card information over the phone, unless you initiated the call. Crooks are known to call with news that you've won a prize and all they need is your credit card number for verification. Don't fall for it. Remember the old saying, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Notify your banks. They can help you obtain new account numbers for all of your checking, savings and other accounts. Be sure to pick a new PIN number for your ATM and debit cards.
Notify the postal inspector if you suspect mail theft, which is a felony.
Depending on your situation, you may want to contact the Social Security Administration to get a new Social Security number. The administration's phone number is 800-772-1213. You also may want to contact your telephone, long distance, water, gas and electrical companies to alert them that someone may try to open an account in your name.
As everyone always advises, cancel your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them easily.
File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here's what is perhaps most important: Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and SS#. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
The general numbers are:
Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Or call the fraud units of the credit bureaus at:
Trans Union Fraud Assistance Department - 800-680-7289
Equifax Fraud Assistance Department - 800-525-6285
Experian Fraud Assistance Department - 888-397-3742
Make sure to maintain a log of all the contacts you make with authorities regarding the matter. Write down each person's name, title and phone number in case you need to re-contact them or refer to them in future correspondence.
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- The Top 10 Internet Scams
Monday January 27, 2003
24 hours a days, 7 days a week, we can go online to get the latest news, do research, check or send emails, and even, play games. The limits of the Internet are virtually boundless.
Unfortunately, the Internet has also become the new territory of the scam artist. These online bandits have evolved their old dupes, and invented new schemes, to take advantage of the online user.
Here are the top ten “dot cons” as identified by law enforcement officials, and reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
1. Internet Auctions: After sending in your hard-earned money, the scammers will send the consumer a less valuable item than promised, or even worse, nothing at all.
When bidding through an Internet auction, particularly for a valuable item, check out the seller and insist paying with a credit card or using an escrow service.
2. Internet Access Services: Consumers say they have been “trapped” into long-term contracts for Internet access, with big penalties for cancellation or early termination, for simply cashing a check..
If a check arrives at your home or office, read both sides carefully and look inside the envelope to find the conditions you are agreeing to if you cash the check. Also, read your telephone bill carefully for unexpected or unauthorized charges.
3. Credit Card Fraud: Consumers say that fraudulent promoters of websites, usually adult in nature, have used their credit card numbers to run up unauthorized charges.
Share credit card information only when buying from a company you trust, and dispute unauthorized charges on your credit card bill by complaining to the bank that issued the card.
4. International Modem Dialing: To received alleged free access to a website, it requires that you download a “viewer” or “dialer” computer program. In reality, this program will most likely reconnect your modem to the Internet using an expensive long distance number.
Do not download any program to access a so-called “free” service without carefully reading all the disclosures.
In general, any pop-up window asking you to download anything is worth being skeptical of. "When in doubt, do without."
Also, be sure to check your phone bill and challenge any unauthorized charges.
5. Web Cramming: Consumers are offered a free custom-designed website for a 30 day trail period, but they are sometimes charged on their telephone bills, or receive a separate invoice, even if they never accepted to continue the service after the trail period.
Again, review your phone bill and challenge any charges you don’t recognize.
6. Multilevel Marketing Plans: Consumers say that they have bought into programs, but their customers are other distributors, and not the general public.
It is best to avoid plans that require you to recruit distributors, buy expansive inventory or commit to a minimum sales volume. Also, be aware of possible illegal pyramid schemes.
7. Travel and Vacation: Although they are promised a luxurious trip at a bargain-basement price, consumers say some companies deliver lower quality accommodations or no trip at all. Others have been surprised with hidden charges after they have paid.
Get references on any travel company you are planning to do business with, and get details of the trip in writing, including the cancellation police, before signing on.
8. Business Opportunities: Consumers say some promoters make promises of making big bucks, but have no evidence to backup their earnings claims.
Talk to other people who have started businesses through the same company, get all promises in writing, and study the contract carefully before signing. Also, get an attorney and an accountant to take a look at the opportunity.
9. Investments: Consumers says they have been promised to make huge returns in a day trading investment system, but big profits mean big risk.
Check out the promoters with state and federal securities and commodities regulators, and talk to other people who invested through the program to find out what level of risk you are assuming.
10. Health Care Products and Services: Claims for “miracle” products and treatments convince consumers that their health problems can be cured by a product not sold through traditional suppliers.
Consult a health care professional before buying a “cure-all” that claims to treat a wide range of ailments or offers quick cures and easy solutions to serious illnesses.
For more information, log on to: www.ftc.gov.
Just as you should exercise great care in walking through dark alleys in the middle-of-the-night, you should also exercise this same type of prudence when navigating the World Wide Web.
Although the vast majority of Internet business and transactions is completely legitimate, unfortunately, at almost every turn, you will see proposals from scam artists trying to detach you from your money. These online cyber-crooks might try to entrap you with their unfounded claims of riches, freebies, health or vacations, but...
Be aware! Be skeptical! Always use your common sense!
(Note: I am always looking for the newest and most fascinating security, safety and crime prevention related products to feature in future Staying Safe columns. If you distribute such items, please email me with details.)
Copyright 2003 by Bruce Mandelblit.
“Staying Safe” with Bruce Mandelblit is a regular column for the readers of NewsMax.com and NewsMax.com Magazine.Bruce welcomes your security, safety and crime prevention questions. He will answer questions of general interest in his column. Bruce’s email address is: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com. Bruce is a nationally known security specialist, as well as a highly decorated reserve Law Enforcement Officer. Bruce writes Staying Safe, a syndicated weekly column covering the topics of security, safety and crime prevention. Bruce was recently commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel - the state’s highest honor - by Governor Paul E. Patton - for his public service. This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.
Reproduced with the permission of NewsMax.com. All rights reserved.
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