Welcome to the United States of SCAMerica!
As Congress plays chicken with the debt ceiling, it seems appropriate* to ask, "why is there so much fraud in this country?" Every day brings new warnings of frauds, large and small. This week though we have a bumper crop, beginning with a timeshare resale scam.
- Bad guys taking advantage of specific economic factors to commit fraud
- In a bad economy, consumers more susceptible to scams, frauds
- Think twice, and once more, before dealing with strangers, entrusting money
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If Our Leaders Play Fast and Loose, Do We Follow Suit?
Fraud’s as old as dirt. Frauds will try anything they think they can get away with. For law enforcement, stopping fraud altogether is like playing whack-a-mole. You should expect frauds to continue, in new and old forms. Here’s a sampling:
- Used cars are in high demand now. Naturally, online used-car sales scams follow.
- "The new yellow pages are here!" So are the fake new yellow pages! This scam has bilked millions from businesses with phony/unwanted ad sales.
- Not all frauds have moved online. This live-in healthcare provider stole her elderly client’s identities and defrauded them.
- Penny auctions? We’ve all seen the ads. According to the Better Business Bureau, some (most?) penny auctions are a rip-off.
- Online rental scams are another trick to use a tight rental market to get your money.
The list goes on and on, unfortunately. Not every great American entrepreneur plays by the rules.
We can’t rid fraud from society but we can minimize our chances of being a victim. It’s important to recognize the two general settings in which it happens. The first involves dealing with strangers who make enticing sales pitches. This happens all the time, everywhere, but is a prevalent online fraud. Don’t take the bait without doing some background checking and letting your ardor for the deal cool first. The second involves dealing either with someone you know, or feel you know based on some shared characteristic. In these cases it’s not the come-on, but the implicit trust. For example, a lawyer probably feels comfortable dealing with another lawyer, an accountant with an accountant, a stay-at-home spouse with another, and so on. This is no guarantee the person’s not a fraud though, and you still must check them out thoroughly before trusting your money with them.
*Imagine if the US government were a household. The spouses are bickering over their finances. They haven’t got enough money coming in at the moment to pay what they owe at the end of the month. One spouse wants to take out a payday loan to close the gap. The other wants to stiff the mortgage company instead, and will only agree to pay this month’s bills if they both agree to spend less in the future. Payday loans aren’t a good idea, but neither is stiffing people you owe when in fact you can pay them. While this is not fraud, it’s not exactly making good your promises either. Is there a trickledown effect?
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– My Loan Calculator – Evaluate fixed-rate consumer and student loans, credit card debt. $1.99
*Please note that these apps are for informational purposes only, and neither LexisNexis nor Lawyers.com endorses these apps or accepts liability for their use.
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