Scam Artists Adapt to Economic Crisis

Avoid those who prey on your financial woes

by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These agencies, a list of which can be found on HUD’s Website, will often help you negotiate for free. To lessen your chances of being scammed, don’t accept offers to help you save your home from financial experts who contact you out of the blue. Contact your lender or a housing counseling agency to discuss your options.

Phishing: Scams in which e-mails are purportedly sent from a bank asking you to click on a link and provide personal information such as a Social Security number are nothing new. But in today’s worrisome economic climate, with bank failures and mergers in the news, an e-mail that claims your bank has been taken over could sound more believable to some.

Phishing scams can also take place via phone. Some scam artists have even managed to spoof phone numbers, meaning a company’s legitimate phone number could appear on your caller ID system when it’s really a scam artist on the line, Bresson says. If a company contacts you for personal information, don’t provide it. Instead, delete the e-mail, look up the phone number in the phone book, and call the company yourself. Explain that you were contacted about providing information and ask if the solicitation was legitimate.

Promise of financial rewards: Even the most skeptical person may be vulnerable to an e-mail message promising easy money or a financial prize if he or she is in financial distress. For that reason, scams in which victims are asked to wire money for a fee or send a bank account number in order to claim a lottery prize may be particularly harmful today. The bottom line: Be wary of any quick fix solution or promise of easy monetary rewards. “If it looks too good to be true it probably is,” says Bresson.

More Web Resources:

If you think you’ve been scammed, you can contact the following organizations:

Fraud.org

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Consumer Fraud Reporting

Federal Trade Commission

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