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All About Consumer Scams

It is well known fact that consumer-based crime rears it’s ugly head in many different forms in today’s society.

Gone are the days when a criminal was merely apprehended by law enforcement, and then sent through the bail bonds process, to ensure they would be present for their day in court. Officers and Bail Bondsmen alike are seeing a drastic climb in complaints related to cybercrime, consumer scams, and technology-based crimes.

Because of the frequency and nature of these increasing crimes, it is much harder for the legal system to locate and lock down on these offenders. The ability for these types of criminals to be at a great distance from their actual victims, makes finding and prosecuting them like finding a needle in a haystack at times.

We have all heard the horror stories of stolen identity, emptied bank accounts, ruined credit, and the peacefulness of a normal life, turned upside down following the occurrence of a scam. Legal and financial issues which take years and years to resolve, if ever. Now, it is more important than ever for consumers to be knowledgeable, prepared, and aware of how to handle these crimes. This is particularly in regards to the potential for scams in their personal lives. Knowledge is power, and a good place to start learning is by becoming familiar with some of the frequently asked questions surrounding the scam-based crimes.

“I believe I have been a scammed – what should I do?”

– If you feel you have been subjected to unfair, illegal, or deceptive business practices, the first place to contact would be your local consumer protection office. They will have extensive knowledge on current and ongoing scams in the area, as well as provide investigative services and the ability to prosecute, if fraud is found. You can also contact the FBI and other relevant federal agencies, depending on the type of scam in question.

“Can I get my money back?”

– In most cases it is unlikely you will receive a refund in a consumer scam situation. Depending on the exact matter, there may be alternative routes to seek reimbursement. Dispute charges with your bank if it involved a credit card, dispute a transaction with an online retailer, or seeking legal action from law enforcement that may result in some recovery of losses.

“Where do I file fraud complaints?”
– In addition to the aforementioned government agencies, organizations such as The Better Business Bureau (BBB) can help assist consumers in registering a complaint and getting it forwarded to the proper agency. Local media, such as newspaper, television, and radio channels may also have community programs to help keep local citizens up-to- date on scams in the area.

“What types of scams do I need to be aware of?”
– Consumer scams come in many shapes and forms. The BBB releases a top 10 scams each year, but some of the most frequent and common types are:

* Lottery/Sweepstakes scams – geared towards obtaining sensitive information from consumers, under the guise of needing this to relinquish a winning jackpot.

* Government Grant/Stimulus money scams – looks to scam sensitive information and financial account details.

* Robo-calls/Telemarketing scams – automated recordings that promise to reward the victim with trips, money and prizes, for just the price of divulging their personal information. Or to use their own recorded verbal responses against them, so as to fool the victim into believing they have previously committed to a financial arrangement.

* ‘Free Trial’ Offers – created to lure the victim in with a free access period to a website, movie channel, or other ‘subscription’ service. Scammers hope you will not read the fine print, or conveniently forget to cancel after the trial period and then BAM! – They bill you for the full subscription amount, for which the unsuspecting victim is rarely able to get reversed or reimbursed.

Staying on top of the details of recent scams and cons will help consumers be aware of what they may be exposed to. If the unthinkable happens, knowing who to contact, what can be done to minimize the effects, and how to inform others to prevent further victimization, are all vital steps to stop scammers in their tracks.

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