International Fraud Awareness Week: Know these 7 red flags for fraud

Consumer Reports News: November 08, 2011 02:08 PM

Approximately 700,000 U.S. consumers fell victim to money-related scams in 2010, and 4 billion phishing emails were sent each day trying to extract money from unsuspecting consumers, according to MoneyGram International, a global money transfer company.

Other common frauds include purported sweepstakes or lottery winnings, and overpaid check scams. Here are some general warning signs that might indicate you're dealing with a scam:

  1. The offer requires you to act quickly.
  2. The company doesn't provide an address or telephone number.
  3. You're told to wire money to a third party, possibly in another country.
  4. An official-looking envelope contains generic words such as "factory alert" or "card-member services," but you've never heard of the company.
  5. You get troubling results when you search the Web using the company name and such words as "review," "complaints," "scam," and "fraud."
  6. The pitch sounds too good to be true, or your instincts otherwise tell you something is suspicious.
  7. If you try navigating away from a Website, a pop-up box forces you to confirm your decision to leave, or the site hijacks your browser's "back" button so that clicking it returns you to the same site.

Some basic tips on how to stop money scams:

  1. Protect identity and property: Don't leave incoming or outgoing mail in an unsecured mailbox. Shred documents with identifying information. List and photograph all jewelry and valuables. Keep the items in a locked drawer and the photographs in a separate place.
  2. Get caller ID: It helps you screen for telemarketers. The call record also allows you to see who's been phoning your relative.
  3. And if you're conned? Regulatory authorities may be able to help. Click here for a list of resources from agencies such as the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Federal Trade Commission, among others.

For more information on 10 common tricks and what to do about them see our full report: Beware of these scams. Also, tomorrow, a new hotline for seniors who believe they have been the victim of fraud launches. For more advice on that topic you can read Preventing financial elder abuse. And The Consumer Reports Money Adviser offers some do-it-yourself strategies for protecting your identity.

Money Transfer Fraud Education Center [MoneyGram]

Maggie Shader

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