Most Common Financial Scams (continued)
Online Auction Agent
Thieves are posting classified ads all over the Internet seeking an online auction agent. To apply, one must pay an upfront fee, usually $200 to receive information and enroll as an agent. The scam here is that they use your identification to process stolen credit cards through PayPal or other online payment sites. See also Employment Scams
Cash for Clunkers Scam
This scam was popular a few years ago when Congress passed the Cash for Clunkers program to stimulate the economy and help the car industry by assisting those with old cars to buy new ones. Thieves set up phony advertisements online telling people they could register for the program at their website, where victims would disclose their personal information and become just another victim of identity theft. Watch out for similar scams that take advantage of these types of federal programs. Every time the government creates a new stimulus program or enacts new legislation, scammers take advantage of it and prey on the naive. The healthcare fraud scam below is another example.
Since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Health Care Act (aka "ObamaCare"), scammers began calling and emailing people claiming to be from the government trying to enroll them in healthcare or verifying certain information to find out if they are qualified for low cost or free health insurance. Beware of anyone who contacts you by email or telephone asking for your social security number, a credit card number, and other personal information or your Medicaid or Medicare information in order to enroll you in any insurance program resulting from the new healthcare law. Another version of this scam tries to sell you medical discount plans offering discounted medical services, hospital stays, and prescriptions. You've probably seen these advertised on television. The ads lead you to believe that you are purchasing low-cost health insurance, but all you're really getting is nothing really, since few in the healthcare industry will even accept such plans. A medical discount plan will not pay your medical bills either.
E-Greeting Card Scam
The next time you receive a greeting card by email think twice before opening it if it doesn't come from a reputable source like Yahoo. If you click on a link in an email, thieves could download malware that takes over your computer. How do you know if an e-greeting is legitimate? First, it should come from a reputable company you've heard of; it should contain the actual name of a relative or friend and not a generic term such as "friend", "secret admirer", etc., and it should contain a confirmation code and the name of the website that sent the card so that you can check before opening the e-greeting card.
Vacation Club Scam
Dishonest companies like to lure people in with the promise of deeply discounted travel bargains and bargain luxury hotels if they only pay $1,000 to $10,000 to join a vacation club. Unfortunately, most people who were duped in to joining find out that they get nothing at all, or the accommodations and bargains they expected never materialized or were substandard. They could have saved more if they hadn't joined the vacation club! The best way to avoid being scammed is not to join a vacation club at all since you can find enough bargains at well-known travel websites. Avoid any unsolicited offers you receive by phone or email too.