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Fighting Fraud and Staying Safe From Scams

Image Credit: Ivan PW (click image for more)The Federal Trade Commission received over 1.8 million consumer complaints in 2011. More than half of these were for various types of fraud.

Despite improved consumer education and tighter controls, criminals continue to come up with new ways to separate unwitting victims from their hard-earned money. Understanding how and where they might strike is an important factor in fighting fraud and keeping your money safe.

A list of every potential scam would fill an entire website, so here are three relatively new ones to watch out for:

Cut your credit-card rate!

An unsolicited caller offers to help you reduce your credit-card interest rate for a fee, and you must fill out a financial profile with account numbers, Social Security numbers, and other personal information.

The scammer may arrange a conference call with your credit-card company and ask for a fee reduction, which is usually refused and could have been requested yourself. You forfeit the fee and are at risk from fraudulent use of your personal information.

You’ve won a free gift!

You receive a call from a local store claiming that you have won a gift or a gift card but must go to the store to pick it up. The call could really be from a thief who wants to get you out of your home in order to break in while you’re gone.
If you receive this type of offer, call the store immediately and contact your local police if the offer appears to be a ruse.


Enter this online auction!

A pop-up window presents itself while you are online, inviting you to bid on a popular item. Often these are electronics products and you are required to input your cellphone number to enter. When you submit your entry, you receive a text message to your phone that you have subscribed to a "paid service,” which could easily be overlooked on your next bill.

This trick is called “cramming.” Protect your mobile phone number in the same way that you would protect other important account details.

Fraud comes in many shapes and sizes, so consumers must stay alert to the prevailing scams of the moment. For more information and to stay on top of current warnings, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at

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