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Identity Theft - Head Matters


4. Fraud and Scams

b. Fraud at the door

This can be the most frightening from of fraud, because the con artist is face-to-face with you, and self-protection is not as easy as hanging up the phone or throwing away a letter. Here are a few frauds to watch for.

Fake orders for magazine subscriptions – Attractive men and women roam around college dorms and other neighborhoods, selling magazine subscriptions. The unsuspecting victim orders a few magazines, pays with cash, and  they never receive a single copy of the magazine. It’s easy to make receipt forms with fake addresses and phone numbers. Although the receipt looks legitimate, if you feel pressured to make a decision and pay, just don’t do it! Ask for a website or an online order form so you can browse through the magazine selections at your own time and pace.

 The pigeon drop – This form of fraud is old but still successful fraud that involves the supposed “finding money,” usually a wallet. The victim is approached by a stranger who mentions that he found a large sum of money in a wallet. The catch is that to share in the find you must put up “good faith” money that will be held by a friend or employer of the con artist until it is certain that the money will not be claimed. You are asked to withdraw money from the bank, and hand it over for safekeeping. You can guess what happens when you try to pick up your share of the find and recover your “good faith” money.  Nobody—and no money—is to be found.

NEVER get involved in a deal where you are asked to turn money over to a stranger. Call the police instead.

Home repair – This con game is spreading rapidly and will continue to do so especially in neighborhoods with older homes or home owners. Someone comes to the door and says there is a problem with the house like roofing, siding, electrical, or the driveway. They offer to fix the problem quickly at what seems like a reasonable cost.  Once they have begun the “experts” have created the damage themselves. 

Before you let anyone work on your house, be sure to get several estimates for the repair. Ask for references. When buying from door-to-door salespeople, you have certain protections under the Federal Trade Commission’s “cooling off” rule. This rule gives you three business days to change your mind and to cancel any purchase of $25 or more that you made from your home or anywhere other than the seller’s normal place of business. Be especially on the lookout for this if your neighborhood recently experienced storm damage.
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