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At times, we all get weak in the face of easy money or a good deal. Scammers know this and have devised a number of consumer scams that you should always avoid.
Con-artist tricks have come a long way in terms of sophistication. They can be much more difficult to spot. However, you don't need a law degree to identify them. All you need is common sense.
Here are three common consumer scams and how to avoid them.
1) Advance-Fee Fraud (aka "419" Nigerian Money Scam)
This scam usually starts with the victim receiving an email saying they won a lottery or inheritance. But to get paid, the victim must pay a transaction fee first. Scammers take the fee and send a fake check to the victim. But if the victim spends any of it, they'll be left liable to the bank.
Avoiding this scam starts with reading your email closely. Scam messages usually contain lots of spelling and grammatical errors. Beyond that, be skeptical. And if you've fallen victim, don't hesitate to contact federal authorities and your bank.
2) Foreclosure Solution Scams
Victims facing foreclosure are sometimes approached by people or companies claiming to be able to save their home through refinancing. Instead, they often trick victims into signing over their deeds or locking them into unmanageable payment plans.
The best way to avoid this scam is by checking out the backgrounds of these companies. You can ask your mortgage company, lawyer, state Attorney General, or real estate commission for help confirm the situation. Oh, and don't sign anything.
3) Moving Scams
Some moving companies will lure victims in with low-ball estimates, only to raise prices after moving everything. Some will also pad their fees with bloated packaging costs, among other things.
You can avoid this consumer scam by getting everything in writing first. Also check your local laws and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Website to see if you're mover is required to be licensed and insured.