warning http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/6886/all en-US Beware of the Phrase "We Can Cut Your Debt In Half!" http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-the-phrase-we-can-cut-your-debt-in-half <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beware-of-the-phrase-we-can-cut-your-debt-in-half" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3419934812_9151a7a771.jpg" alt="financial vulture" title="financial vulture" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="250" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You have no doubt heard that deceptive little saying hundreds of times over the last few years. It&rsquo;s the rallying cry of debt settlement firms. They seem to be everywhere these days, and there&rsquo;s a good reason for that. With the equity in the nation&rsquo;s homes disappearing, and salaries and bonuses taking a hit, people are having trouble paying off credit card loans, store cards, and other debts. And whenever people get desperate, there are other people around ready to take advantage of that situation.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s where these debt settlement agencies come into play. Their radio and television ads play constantly, with very respectable-sounding men explaining how a team of specialists can magically &ldquo;erase half of your debt and get you back in the black in just a few years.&rdquo;</p> <p>Well, as I have said many times before, if it looks too good to be true it probably is. And debt settlement firms are no exception. So let&rsquo;s discover what those companies who talk about &ldquo;what credit card companies don&rsquo;t want you to know&rdquo; actually don&rsquo;t want you to know about them.</p> <h3>1. Can they really cut your debt in half?</h3> <p>Realistically, it&rsquo;s very doubtful. On paper they could show you that they have wiped out 50% of your debt, but a closer look will reveal a house of cards. First, these agencies charge fees up front to help you out. If you have $10,000 is debt, you will be paying $1,500 up front to get your debt cut in half. And if you take $1,500 from $5,000, that leaves $3,500. By my calculations, that&rsquo;s not 50% of $10k.&nbsp;</p> <h3>2. Do these agencies charge other fees?</h3> <p>Yes. That initial, up-front fee is just the beginning. These agencies also charge you monthly fees to &ldquo;handle&rdquo; your accounts. Which is odd, considering that after the debt negotiations have taken place, there&rsquo;s very little to handle at all.</p> <h3>3. Why are they only interested in helping families with $10,000 or more in debt?</h3> <p>That&rsquo;s simple: It&rsquo;s all about cash. 15% of $10,000, up front, is $1,500. That is the minimum amount these companies want from you before they start work. More is better. Less? Well, then it becomes a smaller pay day. And with so many people out there with more than $10,000 in debt, it&rsquo;s not difficult to find customers.</p> <h3>4. Will their actions have an impact on your credit score?</h3> <p>That&rsquo;s a resounding yes on that one. The biggest issue seems to be payment of the new &ldquo;settled&rdquo; debts. It can take many months for all of this paperwork to go through. And while you&rsquo;re sitting back thinking your lovely, friendly debt settlement agency is handling it all, you&rsquo;re racking up late fees and missed-payment penalties. Before you know it, six months have gone by and you&rsquo;re in worse shape that you were when you first started talking to the miracle-workers.</p> <h3>5. Do credit card companies really fear these agencies?</h3> <p>They may, but not for the reasons the settlement agencies advertise. Many credit card companies are simply refusing to work with debt settlement agencies due to their rotten track record and history of screwing-over the average consumer. That doesn&rsquo;t make the credit card companies saints, but in this case you&rsquo;re better off dealing with the devil you know than the devil you don&rsquo;t. Oh, and your debt settlement agency won&rsquo;t tell you that they have a sour relationship with your credit card company until after they&rsquo;ve taken your fee. Then it&rsquo;s simply a &ldquo;Sorry sir, we just couldn&rsquo;t talk to anyone to negotiate your debt. See you later.&rdquo;</p> <h3>6. It can&rsquo;t get any worse, can it?</h3> <p>Actually, it can. These fly-by-night debt settlement agencies are set up by get-rich-quick merchants who care more about making money for themselves than saving you any. It&rsquo;s been known that several of these agencies, who put themselves as the middlemen between you and your creditors, simply take your payments and keep them. &ldquo;There have been many instances where none of this money ever makes it to creditors &mdash; the companies simply steal it,&rdquo; says<a href="http://twitter.com/veragibbons"> Vera Gibbons,</a> CBS &quot;Early Show&quot; Financial Advisor.</p> <h3>7. So what can you do if you have debt?</h3> <p>Well, give these debt settlement agencies a very wide berth. They are not interested in helping you; they are interested in preying on desperate people to extract even more money. It&rsquo;s more of a gamble working with these companies than it is putting $1,000 on red in Vegas. If you&rsquo;re looking for positive steps to take, try the following:</p> <ul> <li><em>T</em><em>alk to your creditors yourself. </em>They will probably not excuse any debt, but they are open to helping you out. They&rsquo;d rather have some money coming in from you each month than none at all. So talk about lowering rates and forgiving late fees. Most of the time, they&rsquo;ll be able to help.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><em>Talk to a credit counselor. </em>There are many legitimate experts out there who can help you work through your financial troubles for a very nominal fee. Some charge as little as $20 for a session, and that is money that will be recouped with the information they give you. Of course, as always you should research any agency you do business with. Start with the Better Business Bureau.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><em>Talk to your bank.</em> Many banks are willing to talk to you about the financial options you have. They could offer you a very good loan to consolidate your debts, or put you in touch with credit counselors that they trust. Again, do your research before speaking with any expert.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><em>Build a budget. </em>If you don&rsquo;t have one, you need one. You can find often find places to trim some cash. Even if it&rsquo;s just a few dollars here and there, it can add up. Applying that to your debts will help you pay them down more quickly.</li> </ul> <p>Remember, a poor economy can make people become desperate. When people are desperate, they&rsquo;re looking for a way out: a painless, simple, quick-fix. But like weight loss or learning a language, there isn&rsquo;t one. These agencies cannot wave a magic wand and make your debt just disappear. Only magicians like Penn and Teller can do that. And even then, they&rsquo;ll tell you it&rsquo;s just an illusion.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-the-phrase-we-can-cut-your-debt-in-half">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/downside-of-the-rolling-jubilee">Downside of the Rolling Jubilee</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-the-big-deal-about-banks-refusing-to-lend">What&#039;s the big deal about banks refusing to lend?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/laws-the-leg-breakers-don-t-want-you-to-know-about">Laws the Leg-Breakers Don’t Want You to Know About</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-does-the-fannie-mae-and-freddie-mac-bailout-affect-you">How does the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout affect you?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Debt Management Financial News credit debt advice debt settlement Economy warning Wed, 17 Nov 2010 15:00:10 +0000 Paul Michael 308904 at http://www.wisebread.com Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/151935241_495a6ff0c9.jpg" alt="Craigslist" title="Craigslist" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you love <a href="http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites">Craigslist</a>, and use the free section to either post products or get great deals, you really need to read this. Because there&rsquo;s a dirty secret to Craigslist that most people don&rsquo;t know about it, and the free section gets hit with it most.</p> <p>As with all services or products used en masse, adaptations arise to evolve the idea. With eBay, it was <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snipe-an-ebay-auction-save-a-fortune">bid sniping</a> (which is legitimate in my book). With free software trials, product key generators hit the market, turning free trial software into the full-blown product. And now, with Craigslist, there&rsquo;s something called Auto Flagging Software, and it gives the people who use it a very sly advantage. </p> <p>Now, it turns out that Auto Flagging Software originally had a good use. The idea was to use it to blast SPAM and ads for sexual services, clearing out the trash from Craigslist and keeping customers safe from bad deals and illicit offers.</p> <p>But other people saw a use for this software, and it is being used by two distinct sets of Craigslist users. </p> <p>First, anyone who has competitors on Craigslist (this can be people offering similar services or selling similar products) are using Auto Flagging Software programs to flag the competition, thus giving themselves more of a chance of getting business.</p> <p>Second are the users who want a particular product and don&rsquo;t want anyone else to have it. This most often manifests in the free section, where great deals are be had and kind people will often just give away something with inherent value to a needy person.</p> <p>When the sly Craigslister with Auto Flagging Software spies a real bargain, they pounce. The software does two jobs; it will send an email to the Craigslist poster requesting the item; then, it sends flagging signals to Craigslist about that post using multiple IP addresses. This will automatically trigger the ad to be pulled from the site. And voila, the underhanded Craigslister has eliminated anyone else from responding by pulling the ad, giving him or her the best chance of getting your deal. These pieces of software are most often used by people looking to make a profit be reselling cheap or free items.</p> <p>I <a href="http://techdirt.com/articles/20080502/1518221012.shtml">did a little digging</a> round and found several instances of the software (I won&rsquo;t be posting any links here, for obvious reasons). I also found people <a href="http://www.getafreelancer.com/projects/NET-Script-Installation/craigslist-flagging-software.html">requesting custom-built versions</a> of the software for their own nefarious purposes. </p> <p>So if you do frequent Craigslist, especially as someone who regularly gives products away&nbsp; in the free section, please monitor your post and don&rsquo;t just give the product away to the first person who responds. It could be that Auto Flagging Software was involved and someone who genuinely needed the product was shut out be someone else just looking to make a quick profit from your generosity.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/in-times-like-these-separate-the-want-from-the-need">In times like these, separate the want from the need.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/search-online-for-a-fix-before-you-toss-that-broken-gadget">Search Online for a Fix before You Toss that Broken Gadget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/regifting-a-simple-how-to-guide">Regifting: A Simple How-To Guide</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting Consumer Affairs Shopping Technology Internet online scam software warning Mon, 13 Apr 2009 21:50:40 +0000 Paul Michael 3043 at http://www.wisebread.com So, will Cash4Gold offer me cash to kill this story? http://www.wisebread.com/so-will-cash4gold-offer-me-cash-to-kill-this-story <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/so-will-cash4gold-offer-me-cash-to-kill-this-story" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/1565420749_283e7c15ed_b.jpg" alt="Pirate gold" title="Pirate Gold" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="219" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="rteindent3">You&rsquo;ve seen the tacky ads; you&rsquo;ve been entertained by Ed McMahon and MC Hammer; but hopefully, you haven&rsquo;t fallen for any of it. Cash4Gold has a simple promise; send them your unwanted gold (and we all have a ton of unwanted valuables lying around I&rsquo;m sure) and in return they&rsquo;ll pay &ldquo;top dollar&rdquo; for it.&nbsp; But as you&rsquo;ll see from over 260 complaints to the <a href="http://www.seflorida.bbb.org/BusinessReport.aspx?CompanyID=16000679">Better Business Bureau</a>, top dollar certainly doesn&rsquo;t mean what it used to.</p> <p>The Cash4Gold operation is at best misleading, and at worst is more like a sophisticated version of highstreet robbery. What they ask you to do is hunt around in your home for gold that you no longer have a use for, and pop it into an envelope. In return, Cash4Gold will estimate its value and send you an offer for it. You can choose to accept it or turn it down. And as the offer is usually well below market value, most people reject it and get a slightly better offer. <a href="http://www.insideedition.com/news.aspx?storyID=2588">This from Inside Edition</a>:</p> <p><em>INSIDE EDITION's Senior Investigative Correspondent Matt Meagher asked master appraiser and jewelry expert Don Palmieri to assemble a collection of gold, 23 pieces in all, to sell to the company Cash4Gold. Each piece was weighed and analyzed with precision instruments to determine exact gold content, and laser etched for identification purposes. Based on the going rate for gold at the time of INSIDE EDITION's investigation, Palmieri and a second independent expert said we should get between $975 to $1,200 for the 23 pieces of gold in our collection. So we sent the gold off to Cash4Gold to see how much they would pay. About a week later, a check came for just $209.81. Expert Don Palmieri laughed when he saw the amount. &quot;It's not a very good offer,&quot; he said. When INSIDE EDITION called to turn down the offer, Cash4Gold nearly doubled it instantly to more than $400, still much less than the experts said it was worth.</em></p> <p>The ads are generally aimed at certain sectors of society, which is clear from the times and channels where their advertising appears. They want people who are at home during the daytime, usually retirees or people down on their luck. And they&rsquo;re hoping people will be ignorant to the current market value of gold. A great story I read at <a href="http://www.cockeyed.com/citizen/goldkit/cheat.shtml">Cockeyed.com</a> highlights one guy&rsquo;s encounter, Brent, with the Cash4Gold lowballers. Here&rsquo;s an extract: </p> <p><em>The pawn shop prices were as follows:
$10 per DWT for 14K gold.
$8 per DWT for 10K gold. With these prices, Brent's booty was worth $198.
He had $110 worth of 14 K gold plus $88 worth of 10 K gold.<br /> Brent had initially noted prices on the Cash4Gold site as:
$15 per DWT for 14K gold.
$13 per DWT for 10K gold. Better, but all any prices had been removed from the Cash4Gold site by the time he was ready to send in his gold.<br /> Cash4Gold operates in a manner similar to GoldKit. They send you an envelope, you send your gold to them in it. They determine the value and cut a check for that amount. If the amount meets your expectations, you cash it. If not, you have 15 days to return the check and get your gold back. Your satisfaction is guaranteed. He also noticed that Cash4Gold offers a &quot;fast cash&quot; scheme to forego the paper check and deposit their payment directly into your checking account within 24 hours. This setup would be faster, but gold sellers would give up their chance to examine and renegotiate their offer. And that, it turns out, would be a huge mistake for anyone selling gold to Cash4Gold. Brent did not use the FAST CASH option, he wanted to see what they would offer, and was willing to wait to see how much it was. The offer check from Cash4Gold arrived, for $60! Brent called Cash4Gold and immediately and asked for his stuff back. They made a new offer on the phone: $178!</em></p> <p>I think the phrase that resonated most strongly for me from the article was this one; &ldquo;How can you offer someone one price, then TRIPLE it, and not call the first offer a rip-off?&rdquo;</p> <p>How indeed?</p> <p>At this point I would usually warn you all to stay as far away from Cash4Gold as you can, and bid you a good day. But there&rsquo;s now an interesting new twist to this sordid tale. As it turns out, some of the many people out there who are writing bad things about this shady outfit are getting noticed; they&rsquo;re appearing in the top searches on Google. And in turn, that has the Cash4Gold guys getting pretty nervous. </p> <p>An article I found on <a href="http://www.boingboing.net/2009/02/03/rob-cockerham-writes.html">BoingBoing </a>tells the story of a guy, not unlike myself, who tries to keep consumers informed. And his story on Cash4Gold was met with an offer from them to pull his story in exchange for cold, hard cash. I wish I were making it up. Here is one of the letters Rob Cockerham received:<br /> <em><br /> Rob,<br /> I work with Cash4Gold on the reputation management. Your article is ranking #3 on their brand term. They would really like to make it worth your while to take it down or make it more positive. They did something similar by joining (OTHER CONSUMER AFFAIRS WEBSITE)&rsquo;s advocacy program. Is it worth a few thousand to take it down? If not, maybe a donation to your favorite charity is more to your liking?<br /> Feel free to call me anytime to discuss further.</p> <p>Thanks, <br /> Joe Laratro 
<br /> President 
<br /> Tandem Interactive - Trendy Online Marketing Solutions <br /> Hollywood, FL 33020</em></p> <p>This is a new low. And what&rsquo;s even more concerning is that other sites with your interests at heart have taken the bribe and pulled the story. Outrageous is too small a word. I popped over to The Consumerist to see what they had on Cash4Gold. And yes, they had plenty, including <a href="http://consumerist.com/5144296/10-confessions-of-a-cash4gold-employee">this article in which a former Cash4Gold employee tells all</a> (no doubt to repair a very bruised conscience). I advice you to read the full article, but here's an extract:</p> <p><em>I am a former employee of Cash 4 Gold. I did not know much about the company before being hired. On my first day of being hired, I was taught the &quot;Cash 4 Gold Scam&quot; from beginning to end. </em></p> <p><em>5. We do offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee or your jewelry returned, BUT THE CATCH IS, that the guarantee is to contact us within 10 DAYS from when your check is DATED. (This begins with the time it took for the accounts payables dept. to ISSUE the check and also including the TRANSIT TIME for you to receive your check in the mail. **** NOTATE THE COMMERCIALS THAT INSINUATE THAT YOU GET YOUR CASH IN 24 HRS.*** If you request (sign) for FAST CASH (direct deposit) you automatically WAIVE your rights to have your items returned, EVEN if you are not satisfied with amount of your deposit.</em></p> <p><em>6. You generally receive your check around the &quot;7th-10th&quot; business day, AND majority of the time Customers are outraged when they lay eyes on the amount of their check. Some Customer's even receive a check for 0.01 cents.</em></p> <p>So, Wise Bread readers, spread the word. Let everyone you can know that Cash4Gold is not only a very shady organization with whom you shouldn&rsquo;t trust you valuables, but it&rsquo;s also one who will attempt to pay off people who try and tell the truth. If I do get an offer from the Cash4Gold people to pull my article, I'll let you know. And of course, I would never take it anyway, even for my favorite &quot;charity!&quot;</p> <p>And folks, if you want money for your gold, try your local pawn shop. If you don&rsquo;t like their offer, walk away with your gold; perhaps sell it on eBay or Craigslist. But never pop it in an envelope and mail it to this company&hellip;you may never see it again, or be offered a paltry amount of money in return. <br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-will-cash4gold-offer-me-cash-to-kill-this-story">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you">The Jury Duty Scam – coming to a phone near you?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Cash4Gold con gold money scam warning Thu, 05 Feb 2009 17:49:37 +0000 Paul Michael 2816 at http://www.wisebread.com The Jury Duty Scam – coming to a phone near you? http://www.wisebread.com/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/444587257_9b5e0ec86f.jpg" alt="jury duty phone scam" title="jury duty phone scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="374" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My wife forwarded me one of those &ldquo;hey everyone, don&rsquo;t fall for this&rdquo; emails this morning. I get one from a friend or relative at least once a week, and usually they&rsquo;re well-meaning but filled with gross inaccuracies or are just completely untrue. However, when I looked to my source for all things BS, snopes.com, I discovered this one was 100% true. It&rsquo;s called the Jury Duty scam. It&rsquo;s a smart, simple con that could clean you out.</p> <p>This scam has been around for a while (2005), but is relatively new compared to the Nigerian email scams and other similar cons. The premise is simple. Here&rsquo;s the write-up from <a href="http://www.snopes.com/crime/fraud/juryduty.asp">snopes.com</a> :</p> <blockquote><p><em>The scammer calls claiming to work for the local court and claims you&rsquo;ve failed to report for jury duty. He tells you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.</em> </p></blockquote> <p>Allow me to break in here for a second. That last statement is incredibly powerful because it throws you completely off guard. You&rsquo;re now on the defensive, and in those situations you&rsquo;re more prone to do what you can to make things right. Now, part two of the scam:</p> <blockquote><p><em>The victim will often rightly claim they never received the jury duty notification. The scammer then asks the victim for confidential information for &ldquo;verification&rdquo; purposes. Specifically, the scammer asks for the victim&rsquo;s Social Security Number, birth date, and sometimes even for credit card numbers and other private information &ndash; exactly what the scammer needs to commit identity theft.</em> </p></blockquote> <p>If you live in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon or Washington State, you&rsquo;re in a state where this scam has already been reported. But that doesn&rsquo;t mean you&rsquo;re safe from this in any other town or city. </p> <p>Personally, this scam would never get to me because I know I&rsquo;m ineligible for jury duty. I&rsquo;m a Green Card holder, so I&rsquo;d already be clued in that something was wrong. You may also be someone who would just never fall for something like this. But the point of these scams is similar to the principle of junk mail and spam. For every 99 people that don&rsquo;t fall for it, 1 person does. If you have an army of people making dozens of calls every hour, you could walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars as an ID theft scammer in just one day. </p> <p><strong>What can you do? Arm yourself with knowledge. </strong></p> <p>First and foremost, the FBI issued a <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel05/092805.htm">warning</a> that states &ldquo;the judicial system DOES NOT contact people telephonically and ask for personal information such as Social Security number, date of birth or credit card numbers.&rdquo; The only time you will ever be called by a court system about jury duty is AFTER you have mailed back a completed questionnaire, and that is a rare occurrence. </p> <p>So, if you are called out of the blue and someone is demanding your personal info, just hang up the phone. Don&rsquo;t even get into a debate with these scumbags.</p> <p>In fact, this is a good rule of thumb for any phonecalls that you do not solicit; NEVER give out personal information to verify records of any kind. If someone insists on &ldquo;verifying&rdquo; information, they should already have it&hellip;so, you can ask them to read it out and give yes or no answers. If it&rsquo;s a scam, they clearly won&rsquo;t have it. </p> <p>Obviously, this does not apply to banks or credit card companies that YOU call, they should do an in-depth verification system before letting you have access to your accounts, with good reason. </p> <p>You&rsquo;d be well-advised, regardless of this scam, to keep an eye on your credit/debit cards and accounts for any unusual activity. And request a free copy of your credit report from <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp">annualcreditreport.com</a> , you&rsquo;re entitled to one from each of the credit reporting companies every 12 months. This is not to be confused with freecreditreport.com, which in my honest opinion is just a big, but perfectly legal, scam. </p> <p>You can also put a fraud alert on your credit report for further safety, although there is still some debate about how this affects your credit rating. I have one on mine, I like the higher level of protection. Bottom line folks, this is a scam that really works and it&rsquo;s only going to snag more people. Keep your wits about you, and have a safe day.</p> <p><strong>Other reading:</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/newsmedia/05juryscam.pdf">http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/newsmedia/05juryscam.pdf</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.mncourts.gov/?page=NewsItemDisplay&amp;item=20317">http://www.mncourts.gov/?page=NewsItemDisplay&amp;item=20317</a></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-your-college-is-a-scam">6 Signs Your College Is a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs credit fraud ID theft illegal scam warning Thu, 14 Aug 2008 21:25:23 +0000 Paul Michael 2331 at http://www.wisebread.com Crocs bite! Shoes pose danger on escalators. http://www.wisebread.com/crocs-bite-shoes-pose-danger-on-escalators <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/badcroc.jpg" alt="bad croc" title="bad croc" width="359" height="359" /></p> <p>How many of you think Crocs are just the best thing since sliced bread? I&#39;d have to put my hand up, too. But several news stories have broken in the last few days that say Crocs are a hazard on escalators and that several injuries have already led to malls and other public places banning Crocs. </p> <p><a href="http://www.kpho.com/health/13696864/detail.html">News 5, in Pheonix, AZ, </a> has reported that children are having their Crocs shoes ripped off in escalators. This is most likely due to the design of the shoe, which fits loose for comfort and is made of a rubber-like material for support and grip. However, these benefits soon become a hazard on a fast-moving escalator. If the shoe gets too close to the edge, the rubber substance and loose fit provide perfect conditions for a shoe being pulled down into the machinery.</p> <p>Doctors have always warned of escalator dangers, especially with children involved. The machinery is built to endure a lot, and may not stop if a child&#39;s foot is dragged into the mechanism. The Croc shoe could be an ideal way for that horrific eventually to become real.</p> <p><a href="http://www.hfxnews.ca/index.cfm?sid=45313&amp;sc=89">The Daily News </a> in Canada also reports that signs warning of the dangers have started to appear in malls. Expect to see them in a mall near you soon. The soft sole of a Croc does not stand up well to escalators, like a harder-soled sneaker. If the Croc gets stuck in the side, it could very well pull down a child&#39;s foot in seconds.</p> <p>After doing a little more digging, I discovered that this is not a new danger. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=2530368">ABC </a> reported the story way back in 2005, along with the tale a little girl who&#39;s foot was sucked into the side of a moving escalator.Why am I, and you, only just hearing about this then? </p> <p>A spokesperson for Crocs is standing behind the shoe, saying they are &quot;completely safe&quot; and that escalators have always been a danger. However, although I&#39;ll still be wearing my Crocs I now have serious doubts about letting my toddler daughter wear Crocs, especially near escalators. </p> <p>It&#39;s also worth noting that flip-flops can pose a similar threat, so basically take extra care folks. Let&#39;s try and have a safe summer. </p> <p><em>Main image by me. I thank you. </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/crocs-bite-shoes-pose-danger-on-escalators">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/more-children-hurt-in-crocs-related-accidents">More children hurt in Crocs-related accidents.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fun-games-that-teach-your-kids-about-money">6 Fun Games That Teach Your Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/having-a-baby-nine-financial-considerations-for-new-parents">Having a baby? Nine financial considerations for new parents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-time-management-skills-that-will-help-your-kid-win-at-school">10 Time-Management Skills That Will Help Your Kid Win at School</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs children Crocs danger escalators hazard Health kids shoes warning Wed, 18 Jul 2007 03:48:00 +0000 Paul Michael 857 at http://www.wisebread.com