One of the fundamental principles of capitalism is that, if there are a sufficient number of consumers who wish to purchase a product or service, a market will be created to sell it to them. If there's money to be made meeting some need or want, whether it's real or imagined, vital or not, some entrepreneur will provide it and try to turn a profit. We're all grateful that farmers meet our need for food, and Hollywood meets our desire for entertainment (sometimes), and we're happy to hand over our money for those things. But there will always be some entrepreneurs who are intent on making money by deception, or by taking advantage of consumers who wish to purchase a miracle.
Recently, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and NeighborWorks® America highlighted the ongoing foreclosure rescue scam crisis during a press conference to identify top consumer complaints in New York.
During this National Consumer Protection Week event, representatives offered guidance on avoiding financial scams, including loan modification scams.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Office organized the press event, which highlighted the most egregious frauds plaguing New York residents and featured scam avoidance tips from the Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Attorney General’s Office, New York State Department of Financial Services, New York City Department of Consumer Affairs and AARP.
The Loan Modification Scam Alert Campaign educates homeowners about the warning signs that indicate that the person or company offering assistance may be a scam. The top three warning signs of a scam are any person or company that:
• Asks for fees in advance of fully providing services
• Guarantees that they’ll stop a foreclosure or get your loan modified.
• Tells you to stop paying your mortgage company and to pay them instead
The Internet makes holiday shopping so easy—no fighting for parking spaces at jam-packed malls, no waiting in endless lines to get to the register. But, even if you consider yourself a pro, shopping online isn't without risks. These five tips from USA.gov can help you protect yourself and your finances as you hunt for that perfect gift:
- Use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit card payments can be withheld if there's a dispute with a store, and if the card is stolen, you won't have to pay more than $50 of fraudulent charges. But with a debit card, you can't withhold payments—the store is paid directly from your bank account. And if your card is stolen, you could be liable for up to $500, depending on when you report it.
- Find out if the public WiFi hotspot you're using at a coffee shop or bookstore is secure. If it's not, your payment information could be compromised over the network.
- It's risky not to read the terms of service agreement before you buy online. You could inadvertently sign up for subscriptions or get hit with additional fees or restrictions. Terms of service are often in small print or presented right when you are anxious to purchase.
- Be careful if you're buying event tickets online as gifts. Some venues may practice restricted ticketing, requiring the same credit card used in the online purchase to be shown to get into the event.
By Barbara Pronin
Identity theft is a serious crime that can wreak havoc with your credit. Preventing it starts with managing your personal information carefully and sensibly. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends seven simple precautions:
- Carry only essential documents – On any given day, go not carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, a birth certificate or passport with you outside the house unless they will be needed.
- Keep new checks out of the mail – When ordering new checks, pick them up at the bank, if possible, instead of having them sent to your home.
By John Voket, RISMedia Consumer Confidant
With the uptick in mortgage and loan fraud in recent years, we tapped the Federal Trade Commission and continue our look at the agency's list of red flags to help you stay safe from scam artists and fraudulent mortgage or loan purveyors.
Every day there seems to be another headline about foreclosures.
Foreclosures rising, foreclosures as a good investment-even foreclosure bus tours. But sometimes homeowners need a little advice from a trustworthy source.
From the Federal Reserve Board, here are five tips for avoiding foreclosure scams:
The state of Florida had been recognized as a leader in real estate and mortgage fraud long before the mortgage crisis took hold of U.S. real estate markets. The combination of easy profits available from inflated formulas for calculating property valuation and appreciation and the relatively lax requirements necessary to qualify for a mortgage broker's license made Florida an attractive market for unscrupulous individuals at every level of the real estate financing process. Unfortunately, many Floridians fell victims to scams which made others rich and left homeowners holding the bag. To add insult to injury, loan modification scams in Florida are taking further advantage of desperate homeowners.