Most Common Financial Scams (continued)

Freebie Scams  -- The internet is littered with free offers for product samples, sweepstakes, gifts, video games, apps, and contests.  While there are some legitimate freebie websites, you have to be very careful when clicking on a link to any website or offer for free things because many are operated by thieves who want to steal your personal information and download malware on to your computer.  One common scam is to persuade you to give up your name and phone number while registering for free stuff.  Once the thieves have that, they can bill your phone bill with “cramming” charges, which are small amounts of money that are billed to your phone bill every month.  Remember that if it is free, you shouldn’t have to give a credit card number.  If you like to participate in freebie offers, get a free email account at Yahoo or Google and use that as your exclusive freebie email website so you can avoid spam coming to your real email address, never give out your credit card or banking information and be sure you know who you’re dealing with before you give out your phone number.  This website offers a Freebie section where you can find truly free products and services from legitimate websites and businesses.

Missing Pet Scam -- If you place an ad in the newspaper or online for your missing pet, a scammer might contact you claiming to have your pet and demanding that you reimburse him for the loving care and boarding he has provided your pet for the past week.  Be particularly suspicious if the person asks you to wire them money.  Why would you need to do that since your pet couldn't have wandered that far away. Ask the caller to send you an email photo of the pet and ask specific questions about the markings, behavior, etc. of your pet.  If you think they might really have your pet, ask them to meet you in a public location, such as at a supermarket, to exchange the pet for a reward.

Bogus Car Fees  --  Car dealers are finding new ways to scam customers out of their money by adding on bogus new car fees such as "documentation preparation fee" or "document storage fees", and some have even tacked on bogus federal and state fees they claim are required to be assessed by law.  Used car dealers are advertising that they will give the MSRP on all trade-ins to lure customers in, and then they tack on all sorts of silly fees, many of which are completely made-up to jack up the price of the car.  Before you agree to buy any car, ask the dealer for a list of all the fees beforehand.

Roof Repair Fraud  --  Roof repair is one of the nation's top scams.  Thieves usually go door-to-door offering a great deal on roof repair.  They will ask for a deposit, but you might never see your money again, as many of them are just scammers who will take your money and run.  Before agreeing to give anyone money to repair your roof, make sure they are a legitimate roofer by checking the phonebook for their listing, verifying that they are registered with state or local authorities, checking with the National Association of Home Builders at www.nahb.org, and checking for complaints against a particular company with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.

Utilities Scam --  Scammers will phone people claiming to be from a utility company and demand payment for a delinquent bill.  The scammer will demand immediate payment over the phone or else he will cut off their water, electricity, etc.  The real purpose of the scam is to gain access to the victim's credit card information or bank account so they can steal all the money in it.  If you think you might be delinquent on a utility account, contact the utility directly and refuse to give any information over the phone.

Sweetheart Scam or "Catfishing"  --  Be very careful when meeting people online for romance or friendship because much of the information found in personal profiles, online dating sites, and at social media sites these days is bogus.  By befriending you, thieves are trying to gain your trust so that ultimately they can gain access to your personal financial data or get you to send them money.  There are certain red flags that you should always be aware of, such as (1) they postpone meeting you in person; (2) always seem to have a lot of drama or sickness in their lives that keeps them from meeting you; (3) are located overseas or in the military so they have an excuse as to why you can't meet them in person; (4) falls in love with you immediately and flatters you a lot; and (5) talks a lot about how much he or she needs money or asks you to send them money.  You can do online background checks for under $20 at beenverified.com and mymatchchecker.com.


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