Scam of the day – May 17, 2012 – Deed copy scam

There is no scam like an old scam and one that is making a new resurgence  is a scam in which you receive a call, email or letter informing you of the importance of having a copy of the deed to your home.  Often these scammers will charge you up to $90 to obtain a copy of your deed for you.  Having an actual copy of your deed is not very important once it has been recorded in the local Registry of Deeds, however it is still a good record to keep.  However, obtaining a copy of your deed on your own from your local Registry of Deeds is both simple and rarely costs more than a couple of dollars at the most.

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If you get such a call, email or letter, merely ignore it.  If you want a copy of your deed, merely contact your local Registry of Deeds where you can get one for a nominal cost.

Scam of the day – May 16, 2012 – Deceptive website business scam

This week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) obtained a court order halting North America Marketing and Associates LLC and a number of other associated individuals and companies from marketing a scam in which they promised to build websites for their victims that would permit them to earn commissions when online purchasers clicked through these websites to make purchases at major companies , such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks.  The companies also promised free marketing help which never happened.  Instead when the profits failed to materialize for the victims, the company just sold them more advertising.

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Always beware of get-rich-quick schemes, particularly ones that permit you to work from home with little effort.  Do your research about the companies and people offering you these business opportunities with the FTC, the Better Business Bureau and your state’s attorney general.  In this particular case you could also check with the companies, such as Wal-Mart that the scammers purported to have a relationship with.

Scam of the day – May 15, 2012 – FBI impersonation scam

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is one of our more trusted institutions of government so people usually trust what they are told by FBI agents.  Unfortunately, too many people also trust what they are told by scammers who are merely impersonating FBI agents.  Recently there has been a large increase in scams that originate with an email purporting to be from the FBI informing the victim that they have inherited money or have won a lottery.  A good question to ask yourself at this point is why would the FBI be informing you of an inheritance or a lottery win?  The emails then direct you to another purported government agency where you run two risks.  The first risk is clicking on a link to a phony government agency that ends up with your unwittingly downloading keystroke logging malware that will steal all of the information from your computer including credit card numbers, Social Security numbers and account passwords.  The second risk is that when you go to the phony government website, you are instructed to pay various administrative fees and other fees to claim the inheritance or prize that you never get.

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Remember the FBI is not going to contact you about inheritances or lotteries.  Also, never click on links from emails, the source of which you are not absolutely sure is legitimate.  Finally, if you have any doubt, call the FBI at a number that you know is correct so that you can confirm that the email is a scam.

Scam of the day – May 14, 2012 – Infomercial scams

The Federal Trade Commission has just won a major lawsuit against infomercial marketers of real estate investment scams that stole money from a million victims who fell for the informercials misleading misinformation as to how they could become rich through real estate deals and through the Internet.  The infomercials were for “John Beck’s Free & Clear Real Estate System”, “John Alexander’s Real Estate Riches in 14 days” and “Jeff Paul’s Shortcuts to Internet Millions.”  In addition to the misleading and false claims that were made in the infomercials, the scammers did not adequatley disclose that once you paid for the system, you also were automatically enrolled in a program that charged you anew every month.

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Perhaps the most important thing to take away from this type of scam is that just because you see an advertisement on a legitimate television, cable or satellite station, hear about it on a legitimate radio station or read about it on a website or publication that is honest, you can’t automatically trust that the advertisment is legitimate. Media outlets do little if any screening for legitimacy and accuracy when it comes to their advertisers.  As always, if it sound too good to be true, it usually is.  It is always a good idea to check out the program and the history of the company behind the program independently before investing in anything.  Checking with the Better Business Bureau, the FTC and your local attorney general are good places to start your research.  And finally, always read the fine print.  Rarely is there anything fine in fine print.

 

Scam of the day – May 13, 2012 – Junior Seau charity scam

It never fails that whenever a major event occurs that would arouse the charitable interests of honest people such as following a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina or the death of a celebrity, such as the recent death of  Whitney Houston or NFL great Junior Seau, scammers are there to take advantage of these events for their own gain.  You can expect to see many solicitations for foundations purporting to be associated with Junior Seau or other charitable organizations seeking your funds alleging that they are associated with the late Junior Seau

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Trust me; you can’t trust anyone.  Before you give to any charity, check it out to see if it is legitimate.  A good website that will provide you with that information is www.charitynavigator.org which not only will tell you if the charity is a scam, but will also tell you if it is a “legitimate” charity that pays an excessive amount of what it collects to its officers for administrative fees rather than using the money toward its charitable purpose.

Scam of the day – May 12, 2012 – Student loan scam

Anything that is in the news is fodder for scammers and when it comes to student loans for college expenses, it is something that is not just newsworthy, but also affects so many people making it a prime target for scammers.  The latest scam which has recently been reported initially in South Carolina involves the student loan borrower being told by the scammer that if the student makes a loan payment by check writing “ETF Only and/or “For the Discharge of Debt” on a check written with brightly colored ink the lender is Constitutionally bound to forgive the balance of the debt.  In order to get this secret information, the student loan borrower pays a fee.  The secret information is totally bogus and the fee is just lost money.

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Different color inks on a check have nothing to do with the effectiveness of the check and the language suggested by the scammers will not in any way affect the balance of the loan owed.  If you are having difficulty with any loan, contact the lender to see if you can work out a repayment modification.  Anyone telling you that they can discharge your student loans for you is a scammer.

Scam of the day – May 11, 2012 – Dangers of hotel internet connections

The FBI has just issued a warning to people traveling out of the country about malware being secretly installed on the laptop computers of people staying at hotels offering Internet connections in their hotel rooms.  The installation of the malware, which has included dangerous keystroke logging programs that can steal all of the information from your computer occurs when in the course of connecting to the hotel Internet system a pop up appears informing you that you need to update a commonly used software product.  The software the pop up refers to is legitimate.  This pop up is not.  It is a phony pop up and when you click on it to install the newest update, instead you are downloading dangerous malware.

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Update your software at home or at work on your own Internet service to avoid these problems.  If you need to update your service while abroad, go directly to the website of the software vendor and download a safe version.

Scam of the day – May 10, 2012 – Free trip scam

As we approach the summer vacation period, the scammers will be out in droves taking advantage of people looking to get a deal on a great vacation.  One of the scams now quite prevalent involves you being notified by email, telephone or regular maili that you have won a free vacation.  You may even have entered a contest to win such a free vacation at a booth set up at a fair or other public gathering.  But be wary because many of these free trip contests are scams.  You may be asked to pay large fees in order to claim your “free” vacation or you may be asked to give a credit card number just for identification purposes.  Of course, the credit card number is not used for identification purposes, but to make you a victim of identity theft.

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Before giving any information to anyone in regard to a trip you have “won,” contact the hotel, airline or any other actual provider of services involved with the trip directly to confirm whether or not the trip that you have won is legitimate.  And even if you actually have won a trip, always read the fine print to see how “free” your trip actually is.

Scam of the day – May 9, 2012 – Phony job scams

With more and more people looking for employment including now many college students looking for summer jobs, scammers are focusing more attention to scamming these new job applicants.  Just because a company may be one that you are familiar with doesn’t mean that the advertisement to which you may be responding was placed by the actual company.  Always check with the actual company by phone to confirm any job openings and advertisements.  More and more job seekers are going on line to legitimate and illegitimate online employment agencies.  Merely because a company is listed by a legitimate online employment agency does not mean that the company advertising online with them is legitimate.  Many of the scammers posing as potential employers or employment services will ask for upfront application fees.  They also will ask for your Social Security number and bank account information so that they can directly deposit your salary check into your bank account.

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Always independently check out whether the company with which you are dealing is a legitimate company.  The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start.  You can also just Google their name with the word “scam” next to it for further inquiry.  Even if the company checks out as legitimate, you should contact them directly to confirm that any job opening being advertised is legitimate and not just a scammer posing as the legitimate company.  Also, never pay up front fees to employment companies even if they promise a “guaranteed” refund.  Finally and most importantly, never give your Social Security number and bank account number to any company you have only had contact with online.  You should also be careful about the personal information that you include on your resume to make sure that it does not contribute to possible identity theft.

Scam of the day – May 8, 2012 – Jamaican lottery scam arrests

Although the country of Nigeria comes to mind when we think about countries from which many scams originate, as I warned you in my “scam of the day” of April 18, 2012, Jamaica has become a hotbed of phony lottery scams.  This week the Jamaican Assistant Commmissioner of Police gave a speech in which he indicated that lottery scams have become the most significant contributer to an increased murder rate in the St. James parish of Jamaica.  On the same day of Commissioner Williams’ speech, Jamaican police announced the arrest of six Jamaicans for scamming Americans through a telemarketing lottery scam.

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You cannot win a contest you have not entered.  You don’t have to pay fees to receive winnings in legitimate contests and lotteries.  Another common lottery scam is when you are told that they have to collect the income taxes on the prize.  This is a scam too.  Either the taxes are deduted from your prize or you pay them directly to the IRS.  No contest sponsor receives a payment from you for taxes.  The Jamaican scam has preyed partiularly on the elderly who should never trust anyone on the telephone telling them that they have won a contest.