Most people don’t know that their cell-phone bill can be used like a credit card—with third party companies placing charges for unrelated services or merchandise on the phone bill.
As a result, people are surprised when they find charges on their phone bill for unrelated and unwanted merchandise or services. This practice—by which unauthorized charges are placed on a person’s phone bill—is known as “cramming.”
“Pete and Julie” were desperate to sell their timeshare. They rarely used it and the fees kept rising. When a “broker” called and claimed her client was interested in buying, Pete and Julie were eager to know the details. Pete and Julie hesitated when the broker asked them to pay a fee for the sale expenses, but the broker insisted that her client was anxious to close the sale and the money would be refunded.
“Shelly” and her family sat down to dinner when the phone rang. Before she answered the call, Shelly looked at the caller ID and saw her own name and phone number! She answered the call and heard a recording that offered to lower her credit card interest rate. Shelly hung up and reported the call to her phone company.
Most sweepstakes scams have a few things in common. They claim that the recipient has won, or is about to win, a large cash prize. And they try to get the recipient to pay money, often supposedly to claim the bogus prize.
Don’t play along. The perpetrators of sweepstakes scams are fly-by-night operators who conceal their identity to avoid detection. Once your money is sent, it is usually lost for good. It can happen like this:
It is difficult to ignore a ringing telephone. While fraudulent emails and junk mail can be deleted or tossed in the trash, telephone calls are tougher to tune out. And because telephone calls are still considered a secure form of communication, voice phishing scams take advantage of consumers’ trust to steal money and personal information.
Student loan debt in the United States now tops $1 trillion and is the second largest form of consumer debt, second only to home mortgage debt.
With many recent graduates struggling to find jobs and the amount of student debt rising, the student loan assistance industry--and the opportunity for scams--has grown.
For years, scammers have duped people into wiring money using wire services. Today, scammers are increasingly asking people to pay money with reloadable, prepaid debit cards.
It works like this: “Betty” decided to buy an exercise machine from an unknown website on the Internet. The equipment looked good and was listed at a fair price. The seller told Betty to go to a local “big box” retail store and buy a prepaid debit card, load it with $700, and give the seller the serial number. Betty did so. After paying the $700, she never heard from the seller again.
Whether you’re expecting a refund or owe money to Uncle Sam, tax season marks a good time to become familiar with tax-related identity theft and other scams. The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration estimates 1.6 million Americans were victims of such theft in the first six months of 2013, an increase from 1.2 million in all of 2012.
Don’t let this happen to you. Be on alert for these common scams:
About 10,000 baby boomers retire every day. With the aging population, many people are thinking of estate planning. The best course if you want a will or estate plan is to hire an experienced local attorney. You should steer clear of “living trust mills,” which hold themselves out as estate planning specialists but churn out boilerplate documents for a high fee, all to get their foot in the door to sell you annuities or insurance products later on.