It’s not always easy to spot con artists. They’re smart, extremely persuasive, and aggressive. They invade your home by telephone and mail, advertise in well-known newspapers and magazines, and come to your door.
Most people think they’re too smart to fall for a scam. But con artists rob all kinds of people, from investment counselors and doctors to teenagers and elderly widows of billions of dollars every year.
Just remember… if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You Can Protect Yourself!
Be a Wise Consumer
Some Classic Cons
Although con artists come up with new scams as times change, some classic scams never go out of style.
The Bank Examiner
Someone posing as a bank official or government agent asks for your help (in person or via the telephone) to catch a dishonest teller. You are to withdraw money from your account and turn it over to him or her so the serial numbers can be checked or the money marked. You do and never see your money again.
The Pigeon Drop
A couple of strangers tell you they’ve found a large sum of money or other valuables. They say they’ll split their good fortune with you if everyone involved will put up some “good faith” money. You turn over your cash, and you never see your money or strangers again.
The Pyramid Scheme
Someone offers you a chance to invest in an up-and-coming company with a guaranteed high return. The idea is that you invest and ask others to do the same. You get a share of each investment you recruit. They recruit others, and so on. When the pyramid collapses (either the pool of new investors dries up or the swindler is caught), everyone loses – except the person at the top.
Protect Yourself From Telemarketing Fraud
Your best protection is to just hang up the phone. If you think that is rude, tell these callers politely that you are not interested, don’t want to waste their time, and please don’t call back – and then hang up. If you find yourself caught up in a sales pitch, remember the federal government’s Telemarketing Sales Rule:
If Someone Rips You Off
Report con games to the police. If you suspect fraud, call the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060, between the hours of 9 am to 5:30 pm EST. To find out more, visit the Fraud.org website.
Don’t feel foolish. Reporting is vital. Very few frauds are reported, which leaves the con artists free to rob other people of their money – and their trust.