Getting scammed and losing hard-earned money to a slick swindler can leave anyone feeling upset and violated. Jean talks with Lois Vitt and Karen Murrell, authors of You and Your Money: A No-Stress Guide to Becoming Financially Fit, about how to steer clear of some common scams that people encounter.
The home improvement scam usually involves someone posing as a handyman who knocks on your door and says that they just finished a home improvement project in your neighborhood and have extra materials and can offer you a deal on something like a new roof. "The person inside of you that wants to [get] a good deal says, 'Oh, okay!' and you don't stop and think about it because you are under pressure—the person is making you decide right away," Lois says. Remember, a legitimate business never makes you take a deal on the spot so Lois says that you should always wait a day or two before accepting the offer and take the time to check out the worker's references.
Credit repair scams usually involve a company that promises to fix your bad credit report in a hurry. Lois says that this is always a scam. "An incidence of bad credit cannot be fixed in a hurry," she says.
Internet scams can be especially appealing because the offer or deal may appear in your e-mail inbox from an official looking sender. "These con artists have become very good at sending messages that look really authentic," Karen says. Before handing over any private information through an online offer, Karen says that you should contact the business over the phone and confirm its legitimacy.
Travel or vacation scams often request people to send money upfront for a free or discounted vacation. Karen says scam artists prey on people's desires and a free trip or vacation should always signal a red flag. "Nothing is free. You really have to question, and if the deal seems too good to be true [then] you really have to explore it further," she says.
Published on August 01, 2007