Check overpayment scams, phony lotteries and fake checks are just a few of the ways con artists rip off consumers. Reports that consumer fraud increased 7.6% in Wisconsin last year serve as a good reminder for consumers to learn about the newest scams and how they can protect themselves from becoming the next victim.
The week of Feb. 5-11 is National Consumer Protection Week (http://www.consumer.gov/ncpw). Whether you’re investing in a business opportunity, buying or selling on an Internet auction, looking for a scholarship, or a great deal on a dream vacation, it pays to know how to spot a scam.
The Wisconsin Bankers Association provides the following tips for consumers to keep in mind when going about their everyday lives.
Resist any pressure or threats to “act now.” Make sure the company you are dealing with is legitimate. In any transaction, independently confirm the buyer’s name, street address and phone number. It’s important to know who you are dealing with.
Throw away any offers that asks you to pay for a prize or gift. Free is free.
Never give credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or other personal information over the phone or in an e-mail unless you were the one to initiate contact with the individual or company.
To make sure no one is “charging” on your good name, review your credit report at least once a year and correct any mistakes. To receive a free copy of your credit report go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
Closely review your credit card bills and bank statements for charges you did not authorize and report any discrepancies. Balance your checkbook each month. Both of these safeguards may help you discover if someone has stolen your identity.
If you think you’ve become a victim of a scam, notify affected credit card companies, law enforcement authorities and the major credit bureaus.
Finally, remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
CONTACT: Cheryl McCollum, 608/441-1216