1. WIRING MONEY IS LIKE SENDING CASH: THE SENDER HAS NO PROTECTIONS
Con artists often insist that people wire money because it is nearly impossible to trace. Do not wire money to stranger, to sellers who insist on wire transfers or to someone who claims to be a friend or relative in an emergency (but wants to keep it a secret).
2. DO NOT AGREE TO DEPOSIT A CHECK FROM SOMEONE YOU DO NOT KNOW AND THEN WIRE MONEY BACK, NO MATTER HOW CONVINCING THE STORY
By law banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but discovering that the check is fake can take weeks. You "deposit" the check and then wire money on the strength of that deposit. You are responsible for the checks deposited.
3. DO NOT PAY AN ADVANCE FEE TO A MORTGAGE RESCUE OR LOAN MODIFICATION COMPANY
Companies may not collect fees until the homeowner has: 1) a written offer from his or her lender or servicer that the consumer decides is acceptable; and 2) a written document from the lender or servicer describing the key changes to the mortgage that would result if the homeowner accepts the offer. These companies also must remind consumers of their right to reject the offer without any charge.
4. NEVER PROVIDE PERSONAL INFORMATION TO ANYONE THAT CALLS OR EMAILS YOU OUT OF THE BLUE
Do not click on the links in an email or call numbers that are left on your answering machine. The crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into giving up your personal information. If you are concerned about your credit or debit card account status, call the number on your card – or your statement – and check it out.
5. DO NOT PLAY A FOREIGN LOTTERY
Foreign lotteries are illegal. You cannot win, no matter what they say. Although it is easy to be tempted by enticing odds and claims that you have already won, inevitably you will be asked to pay "taxes," "fees," or "customer duties" to collect your prize. If you send any money, you will not get it back.
6. DO NOT SEND MONEY TO SOMEONE YOU DO NOT KNOW
That includes an online merchant you have never heard of – or an online love interest who asks for money or favors. It is best to do business with sites you know and trust. If you buy items through an online auction, consider a payment option that provides protection, like a credit card.
7. AVOID DEBT ELIMINATION SCHEMES
When you sign on with a debt elimination company, you share enough personal information to easily fall victim to identity theft. Before agreeing to work with a company, conduct research and contact the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General’s Office to check complaint history.
8. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SURE THING
When you hear pitches that insist you act now, guarantees of big profits, promises of little or no financial risk, or demands that you send cash immediately, stay away and report it to the Attorney General’s Office.
9. INVEST IN REGISTERED SECURITIES ONLY THOUGH REGISTERED PROFESSIONALS
Individuals selling insurance, stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, must be registered. Check the credentials of any person or firm that you plan to invest in. Avoid promoters who do not provide clear explanations of how an investment works, or who refuse to provide detailed information in writing.
10. DURING A CRISIS, GIVE TO ESTABLISHED CHARITIES
Pop-up charities probably do not have the infrastructure to get help to the affected areas or people, and they could be collecting the money to finance illegal activity.