Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sneakiest Consumer Scams, Beware! - Part 1

The following scams are considered to be the most common acts of fraud by some unscrupulous people who do any kind of tricks just to rip off consumers!
Actually, some of these are being done online, and I even receive some in the form of emails! Thank goodness, I ignored!

Scam#1": "This car's a cream puff."

The trick: You want a reliable car for a good price, but unscrupulous dealers bait you with advertised low-priced models that are not on the lot, sell rebuilt wrecks and flood-damaged cars without proper damage disclosure, roll back odometers, push overpriced extended-service contracts and unnecessary undercoating, they lowball the value of trade-ins, and add big mark ups that raise the cost of dealer financing.

What to do: Learn the fair deal by checking out car prices in advance. Let your mechanic inspect a prospective used-car purchase, and buy a vehicle history report. Arrange your own financing at a credit union or bank before you shop. Just say no to undercoating and other unneeded add-ons when doing price negotiation.

Scam #2: "You've just won..."

The trick: You get an unsolicited phone call saying you won some valuable prize or foreign lottery. To collect your money, they request you to wire fees to cover insurance, taxes, shipping or handling. Then, you never see your money again or collect any "winnings".

There is a new twist on this long time rip-off using the internet. Scammers use an internet technology known as "spoofing", so they desguise their phone numbers on your caller ID with legitimate federal agency numbers in Washington DC, and claim to be from Federal Trade Commission or an official "national consumer protection" agency.
The real FTC considers this scam as one of the highest on their scam list (rank #3) on its annual top fraud complaints list.

What to do: Real sweepstakes don't require upfront payments. Consider it red flag if a caller requests money. You can help prevent such calls by putting your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry at or calling 888-382-1222.