Tips to Avoid Consumer Fraud

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In January 2011, Sterling Bank and Trust mailed to its bank account holders “10 Tips to Help You Avoid Consumer Fraud”.  Mass market fraud results in people losing their life savings and filing bankruptcy.  Cons hit victims by all forms of communications, through FaceBook on the Internet, by telephone, email, and postal mail.  People get tricked into deals that are too good to be true or into revealing their personal information.

To prevent scams, keep in mind not to wire money to people overseas or strangers.  Some fraudsters trick people into wiring money by claiming they are relatives in emergencies or sellers who needs to stay a secret.  Consider a payment option like a credit card which tracks where funds go.

Do not respond to messages that request personal or financial information such as date of birth.  Think of how many times a bank uses the date of birth to verify identity.  Someone who knows a person’s date of birth can easily go through the bank screening process to gain access to finances.

Don’t play foreign lotteries or enter sweepstakes.  Eventually there will be responses on winnings that ask for tax or other fee payments prior to prize collections.  One company in the San Francisco Bay Area sends people notices on prize winnings like digital camera or DVD, but make them go to a site to view videos on vacation packages and listen a sales pitch on time shares before relinquishing the prizes.

Don’t deposit funds from strangers and then wire money back.  On Craigslist there are periodically ads requesting tutoring services. The ads are convincing stating someone is needed to give math instructions for good pay like $25/hour.  After sending personal resume information, the fraudster emails the person that the services are for a son or daughter who will be coming to the US from a foreign country, and that an account number will be given to the potential tutor for tutoring fees, with the potential tutoring wiring money back for the payment of a nanny for the son or daughter.  People are responsible for the checks or funds they deposit.  Banks make funds available from deposited checks, but when a check turns out fake, a person needs to pay back the bank. 

Read financial statements carefully because fraudsters steal account information and run up charges in other people’s names.  In January 2011, for example, some people on welfare found zero balances in their debit cards.  Dispute unrecognized charges on statements.

When giving to charity, learn about charity fraud at www.ftc.gov/charityfraud.  When buying medical treatments, learn about health product fraud at www.ftc.gov/health.  When investing in sure things, learn about investment fraud at www.cftc.gov.

Rinne Legal helps people with bankruptcies, estate planning, and loan modifications in Contra Costa County, Sacramento County and Solano County. Rinne Legal has offices in Walnut Creek, Fairfield, Sacramento and Elk Grove. Contact Rinne Legal for a free consultation.  These blog posts are for informational purposes only and not intended nor should be construed as legal advice.  These blog posts may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Prior results described on blog posts do not guarantee similar outcomes in future cases.  There is no intent to create an attorney-client privilege or relationship with anyone accessing information on this blog.  Authors posting on this blog are not obligated to reply to any emails seeking legal advice.  The information contained on this blog is not intended to be a solicitation. 

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