Identity Theft:Skilled thieves use a variety of ways to gain access to your personal information. This is a serious crime and cleaning up the mess can consume considerable time and effort. Protect you personal information. Open your mail when you receive it and check your bank and credit card statements monthly; if caught early, you will not by laible for the charges. We are all at risk for identity theft. Reduce that risk by: Checking your credit report every year; lock your mailbox; shred any documents that contain personal information. To avoid unwanted credit card offers go to: https://www.optoutprescreen.com or call 888-5-OPT-OUT.
Charity/Disaster Scams: Con artists often try to take advantage of the generosity of others. Be wary of any solicitations from charties you don't already know. Bogus charities use names that mimic those of well-know organizations; telemarketers for the charities can receive 90% of the money. Obtain printed materials before donating. Contact you state attorney general to learn which charities are allowed to operate in your state or go to www.charitynavigator.org.
Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams:A letter, telephone call or even an email (sometimes with a "check" attached) proclaims that you may have won a big prize. Usually the recipient is asked to transfer funds or send a cashier's check to pay taxes, legal fees or to submit bank information before the winnings can be claimed. Don't respond! In the U.S. it's illegal to sell or buy foreign lottery tickets or to require funds, other than ticket purchase, before paying winnings. If you respond even once, you will get many more offers.
Phishing: You get an email or a phone call from someone sounding or pretending to be official. There's a problem with your account and they want you to "update" or "validate" your billing information. You will be asked to give your Social Security number, bank account information or credit card numbers. Tell the caller you never give out personal or financial information over the phone. And if the request came by email, never follow the link in these emails. Check with your credit card company and bank statements to be sure that all activity if yours. You can forward these Phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com. It will help their investigators track spammers' activities.
Mortgage and Foreclosure Scams: You may be pressured into signing a loan agreement that you cannot afford or haven't read or for a loan that includes excessive interest, fees, prepayment penalties, balloon payments, or repetitive offers to refinance. Or Perhaps your facing foreclosure and have been tricked into believing that the deed can be transfered to a third party, who promises to pay the up-front costs and sell the house back when you can afford it. If you are having difficulty making mortgage payments, immediately contact you mortgage company and ask for help. If you are facing foreclosure investigate payment options with you loan company and don't sign your property away.
Advanced fee loans: You may be tempted by ads and websites that guarantee loans or credit cards, regardless of your credit history. The catch comes when you apply for the loan or credit card and find out you have to pay a fee in advance. According to the Federal Trade Commission, that could be a tip-off to a rip-off. If you're asked to pay a fee for the promise of a loan or credit card, you can count on the fact that you're dealing with a scam artist.