Avoid Being Conned
What would you say if someone...
- Called on the phone an offered a free gift, just for allowing them to verify your credit card number and expiration date?
- Showed up at your door and quoted a bargain price on repairing the roof or sealing the driveway "because the materials were left over from a big job in the neighborhood?"
- Tried to sell you extra health insurance, claiming that your present policy and Medicare will not cover nursing home care?
- I have to check with the Police Department or Better Business Bureau first
- No, thank you
- I want to think it over for a few days
- I need to talk to my family and my lawyer before I decide
A Guide to the Classics
Two strangers tell you they have found a large sum of money or other valuables. They tell you they will split the good fortune with you if everyone involved puts up "good faith" money. You turn over your cash, and you never see your money or the helpful strangers again.
A so-called bank official asks for your help to catch a dishonest teller. He or she asks you to withdraw money from your account and turn it over so he or she can check the serial numbers. You do and you get a receipt, but your cash is gone. No legitimate bank official would ever ask you to withdraw your money.
Someone offers you a painless way to make money. You invest a certain amount and solicit others to do the same. They then solicit others, and so on...like a chain letter. This is the Pyramid Scheme. Sometimes the initial investors are paid a small dividend, but when the pyramid crashes--and it always does--everyone loses, except the person at the top who has skimmed off the money and never invested it.
Shortly after the death of a relative, someone delivers a leather-bound Bible that your deceased relative allegedly ordered. Or you get a bill in the mail for an expensive item on which you must make the payments. The Funeral Chaser uses obituary notices to prey on bereaved families. Remember, you are not responsible for anyone else's purchases, and all legitimate claims will be settled by the estate.
Bargains that Aren't Bargains
A "free" inspection uncovers needed repairs that will cost thousands of dollars. Or a contractor comes to your home and offers a special half-price deal on a roof because he has extra materials from another job. These are favorite tricks of dishonest firms or individuals who victimize homeowners.
- Always get several estimates for any major work, and don't be pressured into a one-day-only offer
- Ask for references and check them. Verify that the reference names, addresses and phone numbers are legitimate. They could give you the phone number of their friend
- Get a written contract and make sure that you understand the provisions
- Never pay for work in advance
- Withhold payment until the job is complete
- Pay by check, not cash
The cause sounds worthy and the solicitor is sincere, but it's a charity you've never heard of, or its name sounds like that of a well-known charitable group. Before you give:
- Ask for identification on both the charity and the solicitor
- Find out the charity's purpose, how funds are used, and if contributions are tax deductible
- Ask what percentage of your donation goes toward the cause and what percentage goes toward administrative costs
- Call the State Department of Consumer Affairs to see if they are authorized to solicit in your state
- Never be pressured into donating - a legitimate organization can wait for you to make an educated decision
- If you are not satisfied with the answers and feel something isn't quite right, don't give
Rule to live by: If it sounds too good to be true...it probably is! For more information on crime prevention, contact (928) 774-1414.