Fraud Prevention

Preventing Fraud
It's not always easy to spot con artists. They're smart, extremely persuasive, and aggressive. They invade your home by telephone and mail, advertise in well-known newspapers and magazines, and come to your door.

Most people think they're too smart to fall for a scam. But con artists rob all kinds of people, from investment counselors and doctors to teenagers and elderly widows of billions of dollars every year. Just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

You Can Protect Yourself
  • Never give a caller your credit card, phone card, Social Security, or bank account number over the phone. It's illegal for telemarketers to ask for these numbers to verify a prize or gift.
  • Beware of 900 numbers. People who call 900 numbers to request instant credit often end up with a booklet on how to establish credit or a list of banks offering low-interest credit cards. Such calls can end up costing $50 or more, but consumers rarely end up obtaining credit.
  • Listen carefully to the name of a charity requesting money. Fraudulent charities often use names that sound like a reputable, well-known organization such as the American Cancer Association (instead of the American Cancer Society).
  • Ask for a financial report before you donate; a reputable charity will always send you 1.
  • Investigate before you invest. Never make an investment with a stranger over the phone. Beware of promises that include the terms "get rich quick," or "a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Be a Wise Consumer
  • Don't buy health products or treatments that include: a promise for a quick and dramatic cure, testimonials, imprecise and nonmedical language, appeals to emotion instead of reason, or a single product that cures many ills. Quackery can delay an ill person from getting timely treatment.
  • Look closely at offers that come in the mail. Con artists often use official-looking forms and bold graphics to lure victims. If you receive items in the mail that you didn't order, you are under no obligation to pay for them, throw them out, return them, or keep them.
  • Be suspicious of ads that promise quick cash working from your home. After you've paid for the supplies or a how-to book to get started, you often find there's no market for the product and there's no way to get your money back.
  • Beware of cheap home repair work that would otherwise be expensive, regardless of the reason given. The con artist may just do part of the work, use shoddy materials and untrained workers, or simply take your deposit and never return.
  • Use common sense in dealing with auto repairs. One mechanic convinced a woman that she needed to have the winter air in tires replaced with summer air! Get a written estimate, read it carefully, and never give the repair shop a blank check to fix everything.