Most Common Financial Scams

Jamaican Lottery Scam (also called the 876 Scam)

The Jamaican Lottery Scam has been around for a long time.  Thieves prey mainly on the elderly and low-income, two groups who might be desperate for money.  The basic scam is to contact someone by email, text message, telephone or mail and invite them to participate in a foreign lottery or tell them that they have already won a large sum of money in a foreign lottery.  If the victim falls for it, he or she will then be told that the taxes on the lottery winnings must be paid before the lottery check can be sent.  Victims wire the money oversees and there is nothing the American government or police agencies can do to get their money back.  More than one billion dollars is bilked out of Americans every year using this scheme.  This scam is sometimes called the 876 scam because 876 is the area code in Jamaica where many of the scams originate.

Nigerian Scam

Scammers from Nigeria contact vulnerable Americans via email claiming that, if they help the Nigerian government move money into their bank account, they will be richly rewarded.  It is just another attempt to get the victim's checking account information so that they can empty their account.  Nigerian thieves love to scam North Americans.  Don't believe any claims coming out of Nigeria. 

Phone Cramming

Phone cramming involves third party billers of local and long distance telecom services charging you for all sorts of things you didn't order like voice mail, ring tones, long distance calls, 900 calls, online gambling, international calls and web hosting.  A bogus charge on a phone bill is called cramming and it is usually in the amount of $2 up to $20 and is so pervasive that consumers are paying millions of dollars each year in phony telephone charges. Most people can't read the fee codes on their phone bills, so they don't know that they are being crammed.  The big phone companies do little to stop it (except AT&T), and the federal government and regulatory agencies aren't doing much about it either other than passing some regulations that apply only to land lines and not mobile phones.  Now, the FCC requires the big phone companies to inform landline customers that they can block all third-party charges for voice mail, email and web hosting. Since regulations have tightened recently, scammers now bill for electronic faxing and are focusing more on mobile phones.  In fact, Verizon and other carriers have been sued by their customers for cramming and several states' attorneys general are planning to tack action.  If you want to stop it, you can ask your carrier to block all third-party charges on both your cell phone and land line.  At the time of this writing, their phone numbers are as follows: 

AT&T 800-268-2747                                              Qwest 800-491-0118
Verizon 800-837-4966                                           Comcast 800-266-2278

If you examine your phone bills and find that you have been crammed, contact your carrier and demand a refund.  More and more of them are giving them now.  When you shop online, pay with a credit card rather than giving your phone number.  Remember that when a company gets access to your phone number, you can become a victim of cramming, which is why many unscrupulous owners of websites offering freebies in exchange for your phone number exist.

Credit Repair Scam

Credit repair companies claim they can remove all negative information from a credit report when they can't.  Even heavy federal and state regulation hasn't stopped people from violating the law -- credit repair companies cannot guarantee results.  This website offers free help improving your credit rating.

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