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POLICE DEPT.



 

FRAUD PROTECTION

Telemarketing Fraud
Internet Fraud
Fraud Against the Elderly
Prize or Sweepstake Scams
Charity Scams

Telemarketing Fraud

  • Know who you’re dealing with. If the company or charity is unfamiliar, check it out with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau.

  • Be aware that no complaints is no guarantee. Fraudulent operators open and close quickly, so the fact that no one has made a complaint yet doesn’t mean that the company or charity is legitimate. You still need to look for other danger signs of fraud.

  • Don’t believe promises of easy money. If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam.

  • Think twice before entering contests operated by unfamiliar companies. Fraudulent marketers sometimes use contest entry forms to identify potential victims.

  • Never pay to play. It’s illegal for a company to require you to buy something or pay a fee in order to win or claim a prize. Buying something doesn’t improve your chances of winning.

  • Resist pressure. Legitimate companies will be happy to send you detailed information and give you time to make a decision. It’s a probably a scam if the marketer demands that you act immediately or won’t take “No” for an answer.

  • Guard your personal information. Only provide your credit card or bank account number when you are actually paying for something. Don’t give your social security number to a telemarketer.  

  • Beware of bogus “recovery services.” These crooks tell consumers that, for an upfront fee, they can recover money lost to fraud. Legitimate law enforcement agencies don’t charge to help telemarketing fraud victims.

  • Know your rights. Under federal law, you can tell telemarketers to put you on their “Do Not Call” lists and sue them in small claims court for $500 if they call again. To document your request, ask for the name and address of the company on whose behalf the salesperson is calling, and record that information, along with the date, on a pad that you keep by the phone. If the company calls again, write down the date. Contact your state or local consumer protection agency to find out if you also have “Do Not Call” rights under state law.

  • Report violations. If your “Do Not Call” rights are violated, contact the Federal Trade Commission, 877-382-4357 or www.ftc.gov (the FTC does not have jurisdiction over banks, insurance companies, and telephone companies), and the Federal Communications Commission, 888-225-5322 or www.fcc.gov. Report violations of state law to the appropriate state agency.   

Internet Fraud
  • Know who you’re dealing with. If the seller or charity is unfamiliar, check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau. Some Web sites have feedback forums, which can provide useful information about other people’s experiences with particular sellers. Get the physical address and phone number in case there is a problem later.

  • Look for information about how complaints are handled. It can be difficult to resolve complaints, especially if the seller or charity is located in another country. Look on the Web site for information about programs the company or organization participates in that require it to meet standards for reliability and help to handle disputes.

  • Be aware that no complaints is no guarantee. Fraudulent operators open and close quickly, so the fact that no one has made a complaint yet doesn’t meant that the seller or charity is legitimate. You still need to look for other danger signs of fraud.

  • Don’t believe promises of easy money. If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam.

  • Understand the offer. A legitimate seller will give you all the details about the products or services, the total price, the delivery time, the refund and cancellation policies, and the terms of any warranty. For more information about shopping safely online, go to www.nclnet.org/shoppingonline.

  • Resist pressure. Legitimate companies and charities will be happy to give you time to make a decision. It’s probably a scam if they demand that you act immediately or won’t take “No” for an answer.

  • Think twice before entering contests operated by unfamiliar companies. Fraudulent marketers sometimes use contest entry forms to identify potential victims.

  • Be cautious about unsolicited emails.  They are often fraudulent. If you are familiar with the company or charity that sent you the email and you don’t want to receive further messages, send a reply asking to be removed from the email list. However, responding to unknown senders may simply verify that yours is a working email address and result in even more unwanted messages from strangers. The best approach may simply be to delete the email.  

  • Beware of imposters. Someone might send you an email pretending to be connected with a business or charity, or create a Web site that looks just like that of a well-known company or charitable organization. If you’re not sure that you’re dealing with the real thing, find another way to contact the legitimate business or charity and ask.

  • Guard your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

  • Beware of “dangerous downloads.” In downloading programs to see pictures, hear music, play games, etc., you could download a virus that wipes out your computer files or connects your modem to a foreign telephone number, resulting in expensive phone charges. Only download programs from Web sites you know and trust. Read all user agreements carefully.

  • Pay the safest way. Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly. There are new technologies, such as “substitute” credit card numbers and password programs, that can offer extra measures of protection from someone else using your credit card. For more information about paying safely online, go to www.nclnet.org/shoppingonline and www.nclnet.org/essentials/security.html

Prize or Sweepstake Scams

Scenario: You’re notified that you have been selected to win a valuable prize. All you have to do buy promotional items such as pens or key chains with your company logo.
Scam: The items turn out to be shoddy and overpriced, and if you receive any prize, it isn’t worth what you paid to get it.

  • Be wary of any phone-calls, e-mails or letters notifying you that you have won a prize when you don't even remember entering a contest.
    Businesses targeted for fraudulent prize offers are often asked to buy items inscribed with their logos, such as pens, pencils, or key chains, as part of a "promotion."
    These items are invariably shoddy quality and vastly overpriced.
    Another common scam is the "free" trip. It may be an attempt to lure you to a high-pressure sales presentation for a time share, or you might have to pay a "deposit" or other expenses in advance, but you'll probably never get the trip that was promised.
    If you receive any "prize" at all, it will not be what you expected or worth even a fraction of what you paid to get it. The only real winner is the con artist.
    Read the fine print of any contest entry form carefully. Sometimes by filling one out you can unwittingly become a victim of telephone cramming or slamming.
    It's illegal to be required to pay something in order to enter a contest or win a prize, except for raffles and other events organized by legitimate charities.
Charity Scams

Scenario: You make a donation to the police, fire department, disabled children, or other worthy causes.
Scam: Most or all of your money ends up in someone’s pocket instead of going to the charity.

  • When you are approached by an unfamiliar charity, don't make an immediate decision. Get written information about the charity and check it out before giving a donation.
    Ask for the name of the charity, the address, and the phone number. Find out if the solicitor is an employee of the charity or a paid fundraiser. Get the person's name and, if it's a professional fundraiser, his or her address.
    Ask exactly how donations will be used. What percentage goes to overhead? If it's a professional fundraiser, how much does that person get? What percentage will actually be used for the services that the charity provides?
    Be wary of solicitations that purport to be for police or fire fighters. Con artists often make up names of phony police or fire associations. Even if solicitors are really raising money for police or fire departments, it's possible that only a tiny percentage of the funds will actually go to them. Call your local police or fire department to find out if it recognizes the charity and how it will benefit from your donation.
    Sometimes official-looking police or fire decals are provided in return for contributions. However, these decals don't really prevent you from being stopped for traffic violations or entitle you to special services.
    If the solicitation is to sponsor a circus, show, or some other event for children, ask how many children will be invited and where they are coming from. Verify the arrangements with the children's program or facility involved.
    Anti-drug campaigns are also sometimes used as a pitch for fraudulent charities. If materials are to be provided to schools or other children's programs, contact them directly to confirm the information.
    Con artists take advantage of hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, bombings or other disasters to solicit donations for phony charities. Check to ensure that your contribution is really going to help people in dire need.
    In most states, charities and paid fundraisers must be licensed or registered.
    Don't give cash. Legitimate charities will take a check, and some even accept credit cards.

 

 

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