Welcome back loyal June readers! This week we will delve into a few more scams you may see and should absolutely avoid.
Every once in awhile, you will still hear a radio commercial for Debt Consolidation. “Call 1-800-blah blah and let us pay off your debts with one low payment a month!” What they aren’t telling you is while you pay them every month for their “services,” they are letting your debts become more and more delinquent. While technically they are in negotiations with your debtors, you can still be sued for the amount you owe. So, you are out the amount you owe AND whatever you paid in service fees.
You Have Won the Lottery … In Canada?
It’s been a long time since I saw this one, but these types of scams like to cycle in and out of favor. You will get a letter/email stating that you have won millions in a lottery from a country you have never been to. All you have to do is send them a check for several thousand dollars to cover the taxes and administration fees. Seems reasonable, right? Once you send them the check, you wait the required couple of weeks and then you get another letter stating that there is a hold up at customs. You will need to send more money to get the funds. Now, that doesn’t make sense at all! Depending on the gullibility of their victims, this can go on and on for months ultimately ending with no lottery winnings.
This is Your Bank Calling…
Scammers will call your home, introduce themselves with a very official sounding name from your financial institution and say they need to verify from information with you to update their system. The things they are asking you are things they should already know if they were actually from your bank: Account number, debit card number, and social security number. They are also going to ask you for things your bank does not want you to share, like your pin number and your mobile log-in. If you receive a call from your bank, ask them if you may call them back. If they agree, you are talking to a bank representative. If they give you a hard time, hang up.
Your Relative is in Jail
This one is particularly heinous. Scammers will call an elderly man or woman claiming that their grandchild was in jail out of state and they would need to pay their bail over the phone right away in order to have them released. In the panic that sets in after hearing their family member is in trouble, they offer up their card number. The scammer will say things like “that card didn’t go through. Can you give me your bank account number and we can process it that way?” Now the scammers have multiple pieces of financial information and they can clean the victim’s account out. If you receive a call like this, ask the name of the jail they are in. A question as simple as this will throw the scammer off. Any answer they give can be easily verified. If your relative is actually locked up, you will have many options to pay, including making a payment online from a secure website.
Do not buy timeshares. They are the biggest legal scam in the country. Let me walk you through this deceptive process. First, you are wooed with a free trip to a destination city. Once you are there, you are told you need to attend a 90-minute presentation and then you are free to go. During that presentation, you are dazzled with the other places you could vacation if only you had a timeshare there! Las Vegas, Orlando, New York City, etc. Their favorite pitch is to ask you how much you spend on hotels when you travel. Then, they sell you on owning something instead. They tell you it’s easy to use your ownership in one city to stay in another. It sounds too good to be true right? Right. You “buy” a property that you never stop paying for because even after you have paid off a principle, you are going to pay a monthly “maintenance” fee for the life of the property. You will rarely, if ever, be able to spend the week you want in the city you want. Beach properties are booked up years in advance. Once you have figured out this property was a bad idea, there is no one to take it off your hands. The company will buy it back but it will be for pennies on the dollar.
If your gut is telling you that something isn’t right, trust it. As much as we would like to believe otherwise, not all people are good. Not all companies are looking out for your best interest. You must safeguard yourself by asking questions and staying up-to-date on the recent scams so you don’t fall victim.
Until next time,
June was born and raised in the south where “bless your heart” is an insult. Self professed serial dater and an expert in all matters of the heart. June also enjoys volunteering, dancing and sewing.