Have you ever felt scammed or ripped off? There were a couple of times in my life when I’ve realized that somebody had indeed gotten the better of me and my money. The unfortunate thing is that many scams are conducted by nameless, faceless individuals who are hard to pin down. Too many unscrupulous individuals are out there who are trolling innocent consumers, whether it be online or in the “real world”. Con men and women can be found anywhere to separate you from your money. Our best defense is to be aware of what’s out there.
The good news is that you don’t have to take this sitting down, because the FTC offers you some recourse (and course of action). For instance, if you have enough information to identify someone or something that you’ve got an issue with, you may be able to bring this up to the Federal Trade Commission (or FTC). So if you feel that someone has scammed you or ripped you off, then I’ll show you how to file a consumer complaint. The FTC put together the following public service announcement video to get you going:
How To File A Consumer Complaint With The Federal Trade Commission
The FTC encourages anyone who has come across a scam or fraud to report their experiences to them (the FTC), through their web site. Here’s a list of Top Consumer Complaints in 2009, as reported by the FTC:
2009 Top Consumer Complaints
So have you ever come across a scam? I’d also like to take a look at a few popular scams to watch out for, care of Bankrate. Here’s a sampling:
1. Advance fee scams: anyone who asks you to send them a payment in advance can be suspect. Typical examples include dealing with unscrupulous lenders (or people pretending to be lenders) who hand out bogus loan applications or stimulus grants.
2. Email prize scams: this is pretty common. I get one of these every few days in fact. But thank goodness for my spam folder!
3. Online auction scams: so you’re purchasing something online? Make sure you work with reputable sources so that you actually receive your online purchase and get what you expect (for the money you do spend). Here’s more on shopping scams.
4. Fraudulent employment opportunities: unemployed folks are vulnerable to this sort of fraud. So make sure you ask the right questions when looking for a job.
5. Make money fast scams: these are a dime a dozen, it seems. Heard of cash4gold? Pyramid schemes that entice you to send money to the next guy on the “list”? Run away from these as fast as you can!
There are many other scams you should keep an eye out for, such as fake charities, phishing and false advertising. It’s always best to take preventive measures when it comes to situations like these (e.g. take steps to prevent identity theft or see if credit monitoring is something you’re comfortable doing). But if you find yourself caught in someone’s web of deceit, you can at least turn to the FTC for guidance on what to do next.
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