Be aware for these commonly-used scams:

1. Sweepstakes

“You’ve Won $25,000!” Or a boat, or a car, or something else “valuable.” So goes the pitch. But if you’re asked to pay before you get your prize, it’s a scam. Often these outfits claim the money is for shipping, taxes, or something like that. But legitimate companies rarely if ever require any payment or purchase up front.

2. Travel Scams

“Two Weeks in Hawaii for $350!” Maybe it’s a “certificate” for a bargain vacation. Claims of inexpensive travel are easy to believe, because real bargains are available if you shop carefully. Check out all travel offers with a reputable travel agency. And if they want your money right away, before you can think the offer through and check it out, odds are it’s a scam.

3. Gemstones

“Invest in Gemstones With Low Risk and Great Return!” Usually, you must rely on the seller and phony “grading certificates” or “appraisals” for information about what these “investments” are worth. Often, however, they’re not worth the money you’ve paid and they have little resale value.

4. Recovery Rooms

“Been Ripped Off? We’ll Get Your Money Back!” These “recovery rooms” get the names of people who have been defrauded in other scams and then call, claiming to be federal attorneys or agents who can get your lost money back, for a fee. When the federal government sues scam artists, there is never a charge to consumers to return any money recovered.

5. Business Opportunities

“Earn Big Money With Vending Machines!” or by operating some other type of business that the promoter claims will produce big returns. These outfits promise all the support you need, and they may tell you to call others who have done well with their program. Too often the assistance is nonexistent and the references are “shills” who actually work for the company. Once consumers invest their money, they may learn that there is no market for the business.

6. Charitable Solicitations

“Donate to a Good Cause!” You may think you are donating to a good cause. But often, the calls are from crooks. In many cases, these scam artists claim to be collecting on behalf of the police or the highway patrol officers. Give money to Charitable causes, if you want. But, take all necessary steps to make sure the charity is legitimate.

7. Advance Fee Loans

“We Can Get You a Loan!” even if you have bad credit. These scams involve promises that, for an advance fee, you will get the loan you need. But then the paperwork stall begins and the loan never comes. Someone who knows nothing about you, but promises to get you a loan and demands money up front, is probably running a scam.

8. Toner Rooms

“We’re Your Office Supplies Company and We Have a Great Deal!” These scam artists ship low-quality goods at high prices and try to bully companies into paying for them. Typical come-ons involve sales of copier toner, copy paper, cleaning supplies, and light bulbs. If your company receives unordered goods, don’t pay. But do complain.

9. Work at Home Plans

“Earn Thousands of Dollars a Month Working at Home!” Claims that you can earn a significant income working at home rarely can be supported. Very often, there is a catch. Check these claims out carefully before sending any money.

10. Credit Repair

“Remove Damaging Information From Your Credit Report!” These scam artists claim they can get truthful information removed from your credit report, for a fee. Not true. Accurate information can be reported for seven to 10 years. If your report has errors, you can get it corrected at no cost to you. In addition, nonprofit organizations can help you rebuild your credit at no cost.

See also…

Money Frauds and Scams