Friday, October 10, 2008

The Fiscal Crisis Watch List: Don't Fall Prey to Crooked Investments

The uncertain economy has many people worrying about their fiscal health. As a result, you may find yourself vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals who try to exploit tough fiscal times with "get rich quick," lending and other scams.

The New York State Consumer Protection Board (CPB) is advising individuals to stay alert to potential scams and questionable practices highlighted on the Agency's "Fiscal Crisis Watch List:"

• Credit Counseling and Debt Management Scams
• Questionable Loans (including Payday Loans and Home Equity/Debt Consolidation Loans)
• Work At Home Scams
• Online Job Search Scams
• Investment Scams

Follow these tips to avoid schemes or scams.

• Get information upfront and in writing and read the fine print.
• Ask questions about all offers received. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
• Think carefully about every offer before accepting it.
• Never disclose credit card, bank account or social security numbers to someone who contacts you by telephone or internet. Use caution when considering a loan.
• Do not deposit a check or money order that you receive from a work-at-home offer or a sweepstakes.
• Never pay an upfront fee in order to collect a lottery or sweepstakes prize.
• Keep paperwork, including copies of any complaints you file against a business.
• Password-protect all of your computer accounts.
• Check your credit report for fraud regularly through one of three major credit reporting companies.

For more information on the “Fiscal Crisis Watch List” and ways to avoid being taken advantage of can be found here.

In addition, whenever possible, do not enter into any suspicious agreements without consulting with a competent attorney of your own choosing.