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Monday, August 02, 2010

Consumer scams rampant as the public remains desperate

Herb Weisbaum, MSNBC’s “ConsumerMan” has just reported on victimization experienced by consumers in 2009 and it is still bad. He didn’t say it, but I will. People still fall for the most ridiculous come-ons, thinking they can get something for nothing or turn a small investment into big bucks over night.

It’s a dumb assumption because you usually can’t, and the saying still applies after all these years: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” Why can’t you people understand that? A recent survey on identity theft done by Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), and which I will be reporting on soon, says that consumer pro-active measures decreased in 2009 from 2008, meaning you folks aren’t doing your job in protecting your personal data.

What’s worse, Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, says “Scammers view the elderly as easy marks because they have exploitable retirement accounts and real estate.” The con artists don’t care what your age is, nor are they the least bit concerned over your financial situation. Their only fiscal interest is how they can relieve you of your money. And too often you give it up freely.

Weisbaum reports that, as the number of crimes goes up, so does the size of the fraud. “People are now losing their cars, houses and sometimes their life savings to these scams,” according to Elizabeth Owen, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators. You can see the just-released “2009 Consumer Complaint Survey Report” here.

In order of their severity, here are the top ten consumer complaints for 2009:

1. Auto

2. Credit/Debt

3. Home improvement/Construction

4. Utilities

5. Retail Sales

6. Services

7. Internet Sales

8. Household Goods

9. Landlord/Tenant and Home Solicitations

10. Health Products/Services

Go to the “Weisbaum reports” link, above, for specific information on each of the complaints.

In the meantime, do yourself a favor and set up your own discipline of overseeing your private information. You can get some excellent prevention tips from ITRC here.

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