Most Common Financial Scams (continued)

FDA Telephone Scam -- Scammers are purchasing customer lists of people who buy drugs at online pharmacies or via telephone and then contacting them claiming to be from the FDA.  Victims are told that their drug purchases are illegal and they will be arrested unless they agree to pay a fine to avoid prosecution for their illegal drug purchases.  Scammers ask the victim to wire money to a specific location to avoid a search warrant being issued and probable arrest.

Grandparent Scam -- Thieves can obtain information from young people's Facebook and other social media sources or by email hacking, and contact grandparents claiming to be the grandchild or a friend of the grandchild.  The most common method is to email the grandparent claiming to be the grandchild and ask that money be wired to a foreign country and requesting that the grandparent "don't tell my parents I contacted you." The scammer will ask that money be sent to bail the grandchild out of jail or enable him to return home because he or she has lost their wallet.  Many grandparents are actually falling for this scam and wiring the money without even calling other relatives to verify the story is legitimate.  Thieves might claim to be calling from the police, a hospital or attorney's office.  If the grandparent says, "It doesn't sound like you (the grandchild)", the thief will claim that he broke his nose or has a cold, or he might pretend to be the friend of the grandchild.

False Charity Scam -- If you shop at discount retailers regularly, you've probably encountered people standing near the door trying to collect money for some charity.  Research has uncovered the fact that many of these charities are not legitimate and many store managers don't bother to verify that the charity is licensed.  One of the biggest victims of this scam is veterans' organizations, who claim that they are not receiving much of the money being raised in their name.  A similar scam involves fake Salvation Army volunteers who look enough like the real thing to fool people during the holiday season.

Unclaimed Property Scam -- Millions of Americans are not aware that they have money sitting in abandoned or inherited accounts just waiting to be claimed.  Usually, it is the responsibility of the Attorneys General Offices in all 50 states to hold this money until the person or rightful heir can be located.  In the meantime, scammers are calling or emailing people claiming that they have thousands or even millions of dollars waiting for them.  The scammer will ask the victim for their personal information, including social security numbers, and ask them to wire money as a processing fee in order to get the money.  You don't have to pay anyone to find out if you have unclaimed money.  Visit our Find Money article to discover if you have any money coming your way without paying anyone a dime.

Computer Virus Scam -- With the number of computer viruses out there, it isn't surprising that thieves would pretend to be with a major tech firm, such as Microsoft, Apple, etc., and contact people telling them they have a serious computer virus and need to visit a specific website to fix it.  When the victim visits the website, the thieves will silently download malware or use fake software called "scare ware" to convince them that their computer is infected or steal their personal information and passwords.  There are many versions of this scam.  Some of them appear in web ads, pop-up ads, and websites offering free technical help or warning them that a virus has been detected on their computer.  Victims might be directed to websites where they can download security software or get rid of a computer virus. Instead, the thieves might download malware on to the victim's computer to steal personal information or sell them a bogus security software program that doesn't really work.  The average financial loss for this scam is more than $1000 per victim. If you ever have problems with your computer, contact the manufacturer directly.  They often give free technical advice at their websites. Computers often run slower as they age, so companies who claim that this is a sign of a computer virus and promise that they can speed up your computer for a fee are often not legitimate. The Federal Trade Commission recently assessed an $8 million fine against one of these companies.  You can use free software to find out if your computer is infected.  Visit www.avira.com or www.free.avg.com to download free software to protect your computer.

Caller ID Scam -- Almost all telephone scams these days utilize computer software that makes the call appear to come from some place other than where it really comes.  Scammers can make it appear as though the call is coming from a specific government agency such as the IRS or FBI or a local authority, such as a police department or sheriff's office, your bank or credit card company.  There are even websites that, for a fee, will allow you to call people pretending to be anyone you want calling from any number you choose.  This is why you should always be suspicious of anyone who asks you for personal information. For example, if your bank calls asking you to verify any personal information, refuse to give it to them.  Instead, ask for their name and call them back at the number you find for their company or organization from an independent source, such as the phone book or online phone directory.

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