7 Ways You Can Spot A Scam

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Scams Increase During Bad Economic Times

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They often try to convince consumers to send them money or give personal information, such as bank account numbers and Social Security numbers

Apprisen Financial Advocates is a national nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency that provides personal financial counseling and financial education. In today’s difficult economy almost everyone seems to be looking for ways to make more money. At the same time there are an ever growing number of companies that are more than happy to help you. Unfortunately most offers are just carefully crafted scams with high pressure sales tactics. As they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Scammers use a variety of tactics to make their offers seem legitimate. Their initial contact usually occurs by telephone, letters, e-mails and phony websites. “They often try to convince consumers to send them money or give personal information, such as bank account numbers and Social Security numbers,” says Michael S. Kappas, President and CEO, Apprisen Financial Advocates. Identity theft was the number one complaint last year, according to the FTC. Over 300,000 cases were reported representing 25% of all complaints. And consumers reported paying almost $2 billion on those complaints. Apprisen describes some common signs to look out for:

1. You’re pressured to "act now!"
2. You’ve won a contest you’ve never heard of.
3. You have to pay a fee to receive your "prize."
4. Your personal information is requested.
5. The company refuses to provide written information.
6. The company has no physical address, only a P.O. Box.
7. The company insists you pay in cash.

We are offering the following information to all consumers, in particular senior citizens, who are favorite targets of scammers. These tips will help consumers stay safe and protect their pocketbook,” says Mr. Kappas.

Research businesses and charities:
Before doing business with a company, check its reputation with the State Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau.

Read the fine print:
Read all the terms and conditions of any agreement before you sign. Look for exclusions. Always get warranties in writing. Review any contracts with a trusted attorney, friend or family member.

Remember your rights:
Laws protect you from unfair, deceptive and unconscionable practices in consumer transactions. If you’ve actually won something, you don’t need to send money to get it.

Reconsider the purchase:
Take your time before you make a decision. Ask questions and demand answers

Review your credit report:
Many scams lead to identity theft. One of the best ways to catch ID theft early is by monitoring your credit report on a regular basis. Look for unauthorized open accounts. You can request a free copy of all 3 credit reports at annualcreditreport.com.

Report fraud:
If you have a problem with a purchase you made, notify the company in writing. Explain your complaint, the facts of the situation, the resolution you desire, and give a deadline for the resolution. If you suspect fraud or if you cannot resolve the problem on your own, file a complaint with the State Attorney General.

If you would like additional information on scams or more tips to protect yourself, contact your local Apprisen office at 800.355.2227.

Apprisen Financial Advocates, a national nonprofit credit counseling agency, has been helping consumers manage their finances and get out of debt since 1955. Certified counselors provide money management, debt counseling, HUD-approved housing counseling and financial education. Services are provided in-person in 10 states through local offices and nationally by phone or via the Internet. The oldest nonprofit credit counseling agency in the country, Apprisen Financial Advocates is known in its local communities as Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS). Accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), Apprisen is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and AICCCA. For more information call 800.355.2227 or visit http://www.apprisen.com.

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Kathy Virgallito
Apprisen
614.552.9578
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