Personal Finance 
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How to Report a Scam

TelephoneWe just spent the last three days going over some of the more popular internet scams out there and today we’re going to do something about it.

One of the difficult parts about reporting scams is that there are so many scammers! It can feel like you’re fighting against the tide… the tide will keep coming no matter what you do. When it comes to scams like a fake Nigerian prince asking you for help or notification that you’ve won the Irish International Lottery, mark the email as spam and move on. The combination of a million scammers and the fact that they’re abroad makes enforcement nearly impossible. If it’s something more local or more involved, like a fake work at home job from a company located in the domestic United States, report it to the authorities.

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 Personal Finance 
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Paying Fees for Guaranteed Loan or Credit Cards

There are very few things in this world that I know for certain – New York sports teams will always be near the top of payroll lists and there’s no such thing as a guaranteed loan or a guaranteed credit card. So when I read about this scam, the scam sirens were going off like crazy in my head. Banks can’t offer pre-approved guaranteed loans because it’s simply not possible to underwrite a loan without know the borrower. The same is true for credit cards. Any company that offers to do that is lying!

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 Personal Finance 
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Work At Home Scams

With so many people out of work, “Work at Home” type of scams are probably on the rise as people scramble to replace incomes they lost when their companies downsized. The basic premise of working at home isn’t itself a scam, plenty of people are outsourced for clerical work and various back office tasks, but like mystery shopping, it’s an area where the unsuspecting can be caught in an outright theft of their money.

With any work at home offer, look it over for the same signs I bring up about fraudulent mystery shopping companies. If you ever have to pay anything, walk away. No legitimate job should ever ask you to pay something out of your pocket before you start work. Companies may require you to take tests, whether it be a classroom exam or a drug test, but you shouldn’t have to pay for it out of your own pocket (at worst, it should be deducted from your first paycheck).

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 Personal Finance 
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Overpayment Scams

Kim Palmer at US News wrote about how Farrah, on MTV’s “Teen Mom” show, fell for a classic overpayment scam.

An overpayment scam is one in which the scammer sends you a check for more than the required amount, then asks you to send the balance back. Online it usually involves the sale of something expensive, a notebook computer or perhaps even a car, to someone in another country. The overpayment is designated for shipping, which the scammer wants wired to a “shipping company.” The check is a fake and, since it’s international, takes some time to cash. In fact, with international checks, banks sometimes will “cash” it before the funds are verified or transferred, then reversing it when they discover the check is fake. In the meanwhile, you send money to the “shipping company,” which you never see back.

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 Personal Finance 
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Family & Friends Mugged Abroad Scam

As more and more people use Facebook and other social networks, the probability that someone you know will be ensnared by a phishing email grows. Phishing, as it applies to this case, is when someone tries to steal your login credentials by sending you an email that looks like it’s from the network itself. The email will look like it was sent by Facebook but the links inside will go to another site that looks like Facebook, where you’ll unwittingly “log in” and give up your credentials.

This scam works because people are usually on guard when they get emails from their bank, though phishing for bank credentials still works more often than it should, but they aren’t as aware when they get an email from Twitter or Facebook (“Oh, Jim sent me a shotgun in Mafia Wars, must login to see!”). The only positive out of getting your Facebook account phished is that you don’t lose any financial information directly. That’s why scammers have turned to the “mugged abroad” scam. Once they get your account, they pretend to be you and contact everyone you know to tell them about your misfortune of being mugged while abroad.

Unfortunately, this preys not you but on your friends.
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 Personal Finance 
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Nigerian 419 Scams

NigeriaOne of the oldest scams is the book is the advance-fee fraud, more commonly known as Nigerian 419 scam after its huge use by Nigerians in the last decade or so (419 is the part of the Nigerian Criminal Code that covers this frime). It’s really a variation of the very old school Spanish Prisoner scam but the idea basic idea is the same – someone needs help and they’re willing to pay you a large sum of money, as long as you front a bit of the cost beforehand.

The old school Spanish Prisoner scam dates back to the 1800′s where a con man convinces the sucker that there’s a very wealthy prisoner locked up in a Spanish jail. The wealthy prisoner is locked up under a false identity and can’t communicate directly with the sucker, he has to go through the intermediary (con man). If the sucker has some money to help free the wealthy prisoner, the prisoner will gladly repay him and then some. If the sucker ponies up some cash, there are often other hitches and require more money, until the sucker realizes he’s been taken.

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 Personal Finance 
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Scam Week 2010

Scam Week 2010You won the lottery! Just kidding… but you are very close. Wire $10,000 to my account in Estonia and the King of Prussia will authorize me to immediately transfer into your account a payment of 10.000.000.000! I need the wire transfer in order to get your bank information. So please send it soonest.

If you believed any of that (I hope you didn’t) then you definitely need to check out our series this week – Scam Week.

Scam Week will focus on some of the most popular financial scams on the Internet from the classics, Nigerian 419 and phishing scams, to the new, I barely know you on Facebook but I got mugged in England and need money; with tips on how to avoid falling for a scam or becoming the vehicle for scammers to rip off your friends.

Hopefully I’ll introduce a scam, or at least the history of a scam, that you haven’t seen before and can protect yourself against it!

(Photo: jepoirrier)


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