The Best of National Consumer Protection Week: Part Five: Avoiding International Scams
To commemorate the Federal Trade Commission’s annual National Consumer Protection Week (March 6 – 12, 2011), the FTC is providing a budget-load of handy-dandy information designed to protect your money, your credit, and your overall post-recessionary financial future. So whether you’re rebuilding your economic life post-bankruptcy, or simply trying to speed up your savings, the NCPW blog can yield a wealth of resources exactly at a time when average Americans need a financial infusion, including information about:
- Avoiding foreclosure rescue and other mortgage-related scams;
- Knowing how to spot employment opportunity scams;
- Making the most of your money in the early stages of your career;
- Building and maintaining a budget to improve financial stability;
- Avoiding time-share and credit-card scams offered via text messages; and
- Learning what steps to take to save your home from foreclosure.
In the first two parts of our series The Best of National Consumer Protection Week we looked at a sampling of the FTC’s tips for avoiding real estate and employment scammers. In Part Five of the series, we expand our look at scams with the FTC’s top five recent recommendations for avoiding fraud—even broad—including:
(1) A Warning About “The Wire”
Savvy scammers will insist that you wire money to complete their transactions. Why? Because once you wire money—especially internationally—it cannot be traced nor returned. As the FTC reminds us, “Don’t wire money to strangers, to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to someone who claims to be a relative in an emergency (and wants to keep the request a secret).”
(2) Avoid Sending to Strangers
When operating online, it’s always best to stick with trusted sources, including branded Internet retailers and online auctioneers. If you must transact with the equivalent of a retail “stranger,” it’s always recommended to use more protected payment options such as credit cards.
(3) Think Twice About Responding to Unknown Electronic Transmissions
In this new era of connectivity, it’s also never been easier for scammers to move beyond phone messaging, in an attempt to steal your money by text, chat messaging or Internet ads. The easiest way to avoid this type of “virtual” exposure is to stop clicking on links from any unsolicited online sources, thereby reducing the likelihood that out-of-sight online scammers can get access of your precious personal information.
(4) Don’t Fund a Foreign Lottery
In tough economic times, you may be looking to “luck” for a better financial future, using any spare funds to go gambling, place sports bets, or play your local lottery. Odds are you may even receive solicitations from foreign lotteries offering better chances of winning a big prize. But as the FTC warns, these types of solicitations are always a losing proposition, “Inevitably, you’ll be asked to pay “taxes,” “fees,” or “customs duties” to collect your prize. If you send money, you won’t get it back, regardless of the promises. Second, it’s illegal to play foreign lotteries.”
(5) Which Reminds Us….There are no Sure Things
When considering an unsolicited investment opportunity, its best to operate under the assumption that a low-risk, high-return proposition simply doesn’t exist. As we’re reminded, “When you hear pitches that insist you act now, guarantees of big profits, promises of little or no financial risk, or demands that you send cash immediately, report them to the FTC.”
And if you believe you have been scammed, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov, or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4621.
But despite these types of warnings from the FTC, we know that people in desperate situations can fall for even the most obvious domestic or foreign scams. Regardless of the financial fraud you're facing, understand that a qualified bankruptcy attorney can be a safe and authentic way for unemployed or financially insecure Americans to conquer creditors. In fact, the bankruptcy attorneys at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to 1-888-234-4181, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button.