Financial Planning

Six scams that prey on our economic fears

Fraud There's nothing like a recession to bring the scammers out from underneath their rocks.

Thankfully, it also brings out the good guys who diligently expose the frauds.

A few lists of recession-related scams have caught our eyes recently. Take notes.

First up is "Three scams to avoid in tough times," compiled by the AICPA and promoted by the MACPA. The list includes:

  1. Credit-repair services. "No one can quickly 'erase' information from your credit record or repair it immediately, so be wary of offers to do so," the article states.
  2. Claims that your bank has changed hands. These scams usually come via e-mail and ask you to verify your personal information. They're merely a new twist on the old phishing scams. If you have questions about your bank, call a bank representative directly -- but never click on links in such e-mails.
  3. Claims that you can make big money by working home ... and all you have to do is send in a big upfront payment! Don't buy it.

Next, U.S. News and World Report warns about three other popular scams:

  • The credit card scam, in which someone calls to warn you about unusual activity on your card -- then asks for your card number to verify your identity. Rule No. 1: Never give personal information to someone who calls you. Hang up, then call your card company yourself to check the validity of the claim.
  • The stimulus scam. Callers claim they can get you a big chuck of stimulus cash ... and all you have to do is send them a payment upfront. See No. 3 above.
  • The mortgage scam. Someone offers to find more favorable mortgage terms for you ... for an upfront fee. "Anytime someone asks for payment upfront, that's a red flag and you should walk away, because you might never see your money again," the article states. "Legitimate companies do not ask for upfront fees."

Questions? The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection offers additional details about various scams and outlines your rights when it comes to credit, loans, investments and more.

Meanwhile, check out these other financial literacy resources:


Bill Sheridan