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Quick Answers...Fraud/Scams



What are some types of fraud and how can I avoid becoming a victim?

There are many ways to commit fraud, and con artists come up with new ones every day. Commons types of fraud include mail fraud, Internet fraud, telemarketing fraud, investment swindles, illegal pyramid schemes and work-at-home schemes.

Regardless of the specific method that a con artist uses, there are some tips that can help you avoid fraud:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Do not be pressured by salespeople into buying it NOW.
  • Investigate before you invest. If you cannot afford to lose the money you invest, do not do it.
  • Avoid purchasing goods or services from people, companies, or organizations you do not know (whether in person, by phone, or by mail).
  • Be skeptical about unsolicited sales calls.
  • Ask the caller to send information about the company and verify it.
  • Do not pay for something that is supposedly "free."
  • Do not give calling card, credit card, or bank account numbers to strangers by telephone or mail unless you initiated the order for goods or services.
  • Guard you social security number. Avoid using it as your driver's license number.
  • If you use a cellular phone, request a detailed billing of calls from your cellular carrier and use a Personal Identification Number (PIN).
  • Before contributing to charities you are unfamiliar with, check them out with your state charity regulator, such as the Attorney General's office.
  • Ask for information about a company, price information, and written estimates from door-to-door salespeople before doing business with them.
  • A contract worth signing can wait until you've taken the time to understand it.
  • Always ask for information and clarification in writing.
    Hanging up is often the best action when you receive a call offering a fabulous deal over the telephone.
  • Do not invite a door-to-door salesperson into your home if you do not want to hear a sales pitch.
  • Con artists look like you and me. Even if someone sounds like they are your friend, take the time to investigate an offer carefully.

(Taken from Hang Up on Fraud, National Institute for Consumer Education as cited in Building Strong Families, University of Missouri-Outreach and Extension)


Brenda Procter, M.S., State Specialist & Instructor
Personal Financial Planning, University of Missouri-Extension

Last update: Saturday, April 22, 2006






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