- Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 22:34
- Written by Super User
RALEIGH, N.C. : April 10, 2013 - Consumer protection experts with the Attorney General’s Office have published an updated guide to frauds and scams that are currently targeting North Carolina consumers, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
“Scammers are always coming up with convincing new ways to trick you out of your money and your personal information,” Cooper warned. “Protect yourself by learning about the latest frauds as well as tried and true scams that have been around for years.”
The publication offers details about ploys scammers use to try to rob North Carolinians of their money and their personal information. It includes a wide variety of scams, such as telemarketing fraud, phony prizes, fake checks, money-making schemes, and home repair rip-offs. [Read the complete list of frauds and scams at ncdoj.gov.]
One recent scam included in the guide pitches an online store as a way for people to make money while working from home. Consumers who buy into the scheme usually find that selling items online is harder and than they’d thought and that their earnings aren’t what they expected. Once they’ve paid the initial fee to set up their online store they may get hit with additional fees, with some people reporting as much as $40,000 in extra charges appearing on their credit card or disappearing from their bank accounts.
Another scam grew out of telemarketing scammers’ quest to find new ways to get money from their victims. People think they’re accepting a job to provide international payment processing services by agreeing to receive cash, checks and wire transfers from across the United States and then forward the funds overseas minus a small commission. In reality, they’re being used by the scammers as money mules, and the money they forward comes from seniors and others who’ve been ripped off by international telemarketing fraud rings.
For example, telephone fraudsters may tell you that you’ve won an international sweepstakes but owe taxes or fees on the prize, or say that you qualify for a free government grant and need to provide your bank account number in order to receive the funds, or threaten you with a bill that isn’t really yours. In each instance, the caller is using a ruse to try to steal your money.
While people of all ages fall victim to scams, seniors are often special targets. The publication highlights scams geared toward seniors, such as door-to-door home repair scams, where fraudsters charge an exorbitant fee to fix your roof or pave your driveway and then do little or no work; the sweetheart scam, where con artists befriend elderly people in the hopes of getting access to their money; and health related scams like phony products that claim to cure medical conditions.
Cooper offered some tips that can help consumers avoid almost any scam:
• Guard your numbers. Never give your Social Security Number, credit card or bank account number to a person who contacts you by phone or email.
• Don’t pay money up front to get a loan, collect a prize, or for debt settlement, credit repair or foreclosure help. It’s illegal to require such a payment. (And if someone says you’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes that you don’t recall entering, they’re trying to scam you!)
• Don’t deposit a check and then agree to wire money to someone. The check is phony, and the money you send will come out of your own account
• Be wary of door-to-door contractors and others offering home repair services.
• Avoid get-rich-quick schemes. Beware of offers that sound too good to be true, or promise huge rewards with little or no risk.
Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division learns about many frauds and scams thanks to reports from consumers and uses the information to educate the public and take action against law breakers. If you spot a potential scam or think you may have fallen victim to one, call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or file a consumer complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.
One type of scam is called "GRANDMA/GRANDPA, IT’S ME!" where a young caller begins their conversation, “Grandma (or Grandpa), it’s me! Don’t you know who this is?” If you volunteer the name of a grandchild, the caller adopts that name and then pretends to need assistance. The caller begs “please don’t tell my parents” because they say they’ve been arrested, hospitalized, had a car wreck or gotten in trouble.
The fake grandchild then sends a friend to your home to pick up cash or a check or asks you to wire them money. Losses can range from $200 to $20,000. If you wire money, another scammer may call pretending to be a jailer or attorney, requesting more money for bail or fines. Recent victims of this scam have stated that the callers knew detailed information about their grandchildren or other family members, information possibly shared by family members on websites such as Facebook.
Another scam uses a phony security officer claiming he works for your bank.
You receive a call from someone who claims to be with your bank. The caller, a partner of the original scammer, mentions the fraudulent charges previously made against your account.
After discussing the charges for a few minutes to establish their credibility, the caller requests your bank account number “in order to return the improperly debited funds.”
The caller then tape records you reciting your account number, and uses the tape to make additional electronic debits, usually of $200 to $400.
A complete list of scams is available online at the North Carolina Department of Justice website at www.ncdoj.gov