Know scam danger signals
It’s time to think about how you can be a smarter consumer. While schemes
and scams take zillions of forms, there are basic principles underlying all of
them. Knowing the common danger signals and ways to defend yourself can save
you time and money. Be alert for these red flags:
- A deal that sounds much better than any being advertised by firms you know
to be legitimate - offers that are "too good to be true";
- A promoter who is not based locally, provides no telephone number, and
uses a PO box or mail drop, rather than a full street address;
- A promoter name and/or logo that closely mimics that of a respected brand
- Pressure words, such as "urgent" or "final deadline,"
sprinkled throughout the sales literature.
- Pressure, threats or harassment, either in writing, during a phone call,
in an e-mail message, or in a personal contact;
- Immediate request or demand for a check, money order or cash to be picked
up by a courier or to be sent to a mail drop or PO box;
- Vague answers or none at all to key questions you ask about the offer; and
- Insistence that you finalize a deal orally or provide personal financial
information (such as your social security number or credit card number),
without a written contract or other documentation in writing.
Be your own best protector. Even with all the consumer protection agencies
and laws on the books, you must protect yourself. The Better Business Bureau
offers these tips:
- Take your time deciding; be firm in the face of pressure.
- Protect your privacy. Provide personal information only if you know who's
collecting it, why, and how it's being used.
- Read before you sign. Fully understand the contract, and make sure it
matches what the salesperson told you.
- Don't believe it just because you saw it on the Internet. Obtain the
company's physical address and phone number and check the company out with
your Better Business Bureau.
- If asked to purchase goods sight unseen, compare the prices and warranties
with those offered by local firms. Remember that you run a risk of getting
inferior merchandise when you order products from unfamiliar businesses
without being able to inspect the first.
A new hoax has been finding its way through our emails since April. It
reports that 32,000 UPS uniforms were purchased through eBay. Therefore, we
must be suspicious of our deliveries and check the ID of all drivers. This is
similar to the missing U-Haul trucks hoax which also attempts to frighten
people regarding home deliveries. This is a "scare hoax" and can be
found on: hoaxbusters.ciac.org/ It is a good idea to check this very
informative U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) website before
"forwarding" email. If you receive it, just smile, and delete.
Courtesy RB NEWSJournal
August 7, 2003