[r85] Pond Report: Consumer protection advice on avoiding scams and fraudulent business practices (9/1/2011)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Start Date: 9/1/2011 All Day
End Date: 9/1/2011
Every year countless numbers of Hoosiers all over the state become the victims of consumer frauds and scams. There are simple steps that can be taken to protect yourself from fraudulent business practices. By becoming aware of some of the most typical scams, you will be more trained to notice these types of deceptive business behaviors and how to deal with them. Two forms of scams that easily draw people in involve unsolicitated phone calls and offers for products over the internet.

Most of us have received calls from telemarketers at one time or another. It is important to know when these forms of solicitation are fraudulent or not. Common telephone scams include prize offers, travel packages, vitamins and other health products, investments and charities.

You may find it valuable to know that it is illegal for a telemarketer to call you if you've asked not to be called.  Also keep in mind that calling times for telemarketing calls are restricted between 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. You can minimize your risk by never letting a telephone solicitor pressure you into making a decision immediately over the phone and always ask for written material about any offer or charity that you do not recognize.

Please remember to never give out your checking account number, your credit card number or your social security number over the phone. The only time it is safe to share these numbers is if you have initiated the telephone call and have been able to verify that it is a legitimate phone number and business.

One of the most recent telephone scams that I have heard of involves solicitors claiming they can lower interest rates on your loans and credit cards. Make sure to never divulge any personal information if you receive this call and be suspicious of a potential scam being set up.

To stop receiving telemarketing calls, whether you think they are fraudulent or not, ask to be removed from their list. Federal law requires the telephone solicitor to stop making calls to you and that they keep a record of your request for ten years. You can also sign up for Indiana's Privacy List by calling 888-834-9969.

Another way many people fall into scams is through online shopping. With the popularity of online shopping growing, many people turn to the internet when they want to make a purchase. According to the Indiana Attorney General's office, internet purchases are one of the largest sources of complaints that they have filed every year.

There are some tips to keep in mind so online shopping can be a safe and convenient way of making purchases.  Research vendors and sellers before making any online purchase, make sure to take a close look at what you are getting and calculate the final cost. Carefully choose your payment method and always maintain a paper trail.

If you have questions regarding internet scams, you can contact the Consumer Protection Division at 800-382-5516.

It is important to know the signs of fraudulent business practices and scams. By being alert and aware of these particular scams, you should be able to avoid unnecessary hassles to your financial records and accounts.  

For more information on these topics and other consumer protection information, visit the Indiana Attorney General's website at http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2336.htm