For Mark Roberts’ Use: In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission (www.tfc.gov) received nearly one million complaints of fraud from consumers. As the FTC scrambles to educate consumers about potential fraudulent schemes, con artists simply switch their tactics and come up with new, increasingly creative ways to swindle people out of their hard-earned money. Unfortunately, many scams seem to target the elderly, who are often less familiar with the dark side of the internet.
While new fraudulent schemes emerge almost daily, the following are some common scams which are causing problems at present time:
- Cutting your credit card rate or fees. This scam can appear innocent enough, as a caller or online ad offers to help consumers lower their interest rates or avoid expensive card fees. People are generally more on guard when being directly asked to purchase something, but this scam seems like an offer to help the household budget. Unfortunately, in order to “help” the consumer secure a lower rate, they must first fill out a fake application – complete with information such as Social Security numbers.
- You’ve won a gift! This scam may usually involves a phone call. Everyone likes winning something, so it’s easy to fall for a scam like this one. The recipient of the “gift” is asked to come to store to retrieve their prize – leaving the home empty and available for burglars.
- Online auction scams. The latest internet auction scam involves an advertisement depicting alluringly low prices on popular items such as electronics. In order to participate in the auction, the customer is asked to enter their cell phone number. However, this is actually a tactic called “cramming”, in which cell phone customers are tricked into subscribing to a text message service for a monthly fee which the scammer hopes will not be noticed on the next billing cycle.
- Double your retirement savings! Retirees are often targeted with promises of a more luxurious lifestyle in the golden years, only to be devastated by the loss of their entire retirement fund. They should always remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Sticking with a trusted, licensed financial advisor who helps clients safely grow a nest egg is always preferable to questionable investment schemes which make lofty promises.