Friday, October 16, 2009

Sneakiest Consumer Scams, Beware! - Part 6

Scam#9: "I'm a political refugee. Help me move millions out of my former country into your bank account."

The trick: An unsolicited email offers you "opportunity" to share in a percentage of millions of dollars that a self-proclaimed government official is trying to transfer illegally out of a foreign country in return for bank account numbers or other identifying information from you.

What to do: just say no, even if the players were telling the truth. It would be illegal for you to help expatriate money from a foreign country to the US. and dangerous for you to get involved with the characters who would try it.

Scam#10: "I wouldn't go on vacation without this car repair."

The trick: A dealer or an independent repair shops advertise a service at an unbelievably low price, but the shop finds that added costly parts and service are needed, when they are often not necessary. In some cases, the shop pads your bill with "ghost" parts or labor not actually provided.

What to do: Find a repair shop before you need one; get recommendations from friends. Check the shop's reputation with your local Better Business Bureau or your state/local department of consumer affairs, look for Automotive Service Excellence Certification, AAA approved shop status, etc... Get a written estimate of the parts, labor and cost required for repair.
When having a regular maintenance performed, ask what the shop intends to do and compare that with what's recommended in your owner's manual so that you don't pay for work you don't need. If you're suspicious about a recommended repair, get a second opinion at another shop.