How to Recognize a Credit Repair Scam

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As you attempt to start consolidating and potentially negotiating some of your outstanding debt, you will probably find yourself wondering if you should go it alone or ask for professional help.

The ease of accessibility to credit cards has made getting in over your head in debt all too easy. The problem arises when you finally realize just how high your balance(s) and minimum payments have gotten. Once your minimum monthly payments become too much for you to afford, you’ve got a problem that needs attention ASAP.

There are several really effective methods you can use in order to strategically pay your debt down until it’s paid off entirely. However, if your debt has reached alarming heights, you will probably find more success if you work with a professional in the debt relief arena.

Credit repair companies are everywhere these days. Since you’re currently dealing with high levels of outstanding debt, you probably receive ads from many of these companies on the regular. Many such companies claim they’ll help you pay off your debt in record time, raise your credit score by leaps and bounds and erase bad marks from your credit report. Some companies even go so far as to promise you a completely new credit history.

Outlandish promises are red flags that should warn you to avoid sharing your personal information. If it sounds too good to be true, rest assured that it is too good to be true. Some other signs of fraudulent credit repair activity include:

  • An offer of a new Social Security Number – A fraudulent credit repair company may attempt to assign you a number to use instead of your Social Security Number, to prevent lenders from seeing your bad credit history. Also called a Credit Privacy Number, these are illegal and are often stolen Social Security Numbers.
  • Advising you to fudge the truth on loan applications – Anyone who tells you to lie to obtain money is a scammer!
  • Requiring you to pay them a hefty sum up front – A reasonable retainer fee requested by a certified debt relief attorney is legitimate and legal. Requests for large amounts of money without seeing results is a reason to walk away.
  • Disputing claims on your credit report that you know to be true
  • Failing to advise you of your legal rights

Instead of following the advice of a fraudulent credit repair company, reach out to a debt relief attorney who has experienced significant success in negotiating with lenders. Ask your attorney for testimonials of previous clients so you’ll know if he’s been able to help people in your same situation before.

Our credit repair methods have saved many, many clients from financial ruin. We can often help you avoid bankruptcy if that is something you desire. On the other hand, we can help you through bankruptcy as well. Bankruptcy is a great way to get a fresh financial do-over.

Negotiating with banks and lenders is our specialty. We can often knock significant amounts off of your overdue balances. We’ll help you formulate a debt payoff schedule and we’ll be with you every step of the way until your outstanding debt is eradicated. Contact us to learn more about how we can help!

 

Image credit: The Comedian

How to Avoid Losing Your Money to a Scam Artist

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In today’s technology-driven world, online bill-paying has become increasingly common. You can even pay many of your bills over the phone if time is of the essence. The convenience this offers, along with the paper saved when avoiding manual bill pay, has made making remote payments feel natural for many people.

Our high comfort level with making online and over-the-phone bill payments brings with it some potential (and quite serious) problems. The first of which, naturally, is the possibility of identity theft, especially when paying online while using a non-secure website. For more information about shopping safely online, read this.

Another time to be wary is when you are contacted on the phone by someone who claims you are indebted to them. Sometimes, scammers using this approach will have done some research ahead of time so that they are familiar with places you shop, visit, or receive services or medical care.

Even if you recognize the name of the business that is being used, be sure to ask them to provide you with a written invoice through regular mail before paying. If you have no recollection of owing any money to the business mentioned, and the caller refuses to send you a written invoice, hang up the phone.

Any legitimate business/lender/creditor will be able and willing to send you a written invoice for money you  actually owe.

DO NOT, under any circumstances, simply pay money to a “company” to get them to stop bothering you. If you don’t remember owing the money in question, chances are good that you actually don’t owe it! If you request a written invoice for the bill or loan in question and continue to be harassed for the money without receiving an invoice, it’s time to talk to an attorney, because often their behavior is illegal and can be stopped.

The bottom line is – if you don’t know where a supposed debt is from, and the “collector” can’t or won’t divulge what they money owed was for, you’re being scammed.

If you’ve experienced something like this situation recently, and you mistakenly paid money out – it’s also important to put some important practices into place that will A) Keep this from happening in the future, and B) Protect your accounts that you may have opened up to foul play. By consulting with a licensed attorney who specializes in debt resolution, you’ll be able to arm yourself with the best information available.

In addition, it’s possible that some or all of the money that you paid out to a fraudulent collector can be recovered, and hopefully that particular scam artist will be stopped in his current path of deception – saving others from being taken advantage of in the future.

To learn more about how we can help you, call Veitengruber Law now. You can also gain useful information by reading a number of our blog posts about identity theft and fraud. We look forward to your free consultation with us if you should choose to make an appointment!

 

Image credit: Tim Parkinson

I’ve Been Scammed. Now What?

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Recently, law enforcement officers across the nation have been fervently urging everyone to be on high alert for a new variety of scam artists. Naturally, people of all ages need to be smart in order to avoid being scammed out of their hard earned cash, however in the past few months, a new and disturbing trend has been unfolding.

The newest popular hoax among rip-off artists is the to pose as the grandchild of an elderly person. Since a grandparent would most certainly recognize his or her own grandchild in person, these scammers make contact with the “grandparents” only on the telephone.  At the beginning of the conversation, they  typically ask their ‘grandparent’ if he or she can guess which grandchild they’re talking to. As soon as a name is offered, the scammer responds affirmatively. Any questions about differences in voice are blamed on having a cold or having recently been hit on the nose or face.

Some scam artists use social media or other websites to acquire additional information about the targeted families, such as names/nicknames, personal details like birthdays, and other facts that may persuade the targeted grandparents to believe they are actually speaking to their grandchildren.

Everyone knows that a grandparent never wants his or her grandchild to suffer, so the (pretend) grandchild invents a distressing story, perhaps that he is imprisoned in Mexico after a crazy bachelor party, or that he was on a trip with friends and his wallet was stolen. Some have even claimed to have been in a car accident, or to have lost their passport (and to acquire a new one they need thousands of dollars).

Usually, the scam artist requests secrecy (to avoid getting in trouble with parents, etc.) in order to keep the grandparents from contacting other family members and finding out that their grandchild is actually not in any trouble at all.

These scam artists typically work with several other people who may also call the grandparents, posing as MoneyGram or Western Union store operators, lawyers or other professionals. These people play an important role because they provide details that back up the initial story and cause the grandparents to fully believe the deception.

After being told that their first wire transfer failed, many of these elderly victims go on to wire two or three additional cash advances, hoping to prevent any harm coming to their grandchild.

Statistics show that the elderly are more susceptible than other age groups to being scammed out of large sums of money, but in reality, this can happen to anyone and it is important to be smart before sending money when asked for help over the phone. Some things to do that will help you keep your money where it belongs:

  • Do not keep any requests for money a secret. Confirm that the person asking for your help really is in trouble. Call friends and family members before doing anything.
  • Ask the person on the phone a question that only he would know the answer to, if he is who he claims to be.
  • Use a secret word that only your family and closest friends know. If the caller can’t tell you the secret word, hang up.
  • Be careful how much personal information you post online. We love social networking as much as the next person, but try to remain slightly anonymous.  This will leave you less susceptible to scams.

If you’re reading because you’ve already been victimized, it is a good idea to seek quality legal assistance to prevent the con artist from taking any more of your money and to ensure that something of this nature never happens again.

Call Veitengruber Law and ask us how we can help. There are security measures that we can help you put into place on all of your accounts and credit cards. We can also investigate your current fraud case and determine whether any of your lost money can be recovered.

If you’d like a consult with one of our attorneys, but you don’t know how you’ll pay for it – we’ve got an easy answer for you. Simply like our Facebook page, and your consultation meeting will be completely free of charge!


Are You a Target for Consumer Fraud?

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Many people are under the false assumption that consumer fraud simply cannot happen to them. Unfortunately, the statistics on consumer fraud speak for themselves, and many extremely intelligent people, including savvy business owners and successful professionals, have indeed been victims of consumer fraud.

There are many situations that present a potential to be defrauded, including but not limited to interactions via: telephone, snail mail, and on the Internet. In fact, it is even possible to be defrauded in person; completing a face-to-face deal with someone does not eradicate the importance of being alert for potential scam artists. Some of them are so good at what they do that they can convince almost anyone to give them their hard-earned money.

A mind blowing $343 million have been lost in the past 12 months due to consumer fraud. The actual number may be even higher, due to some instances of fraud going unreported.

Many people are unaware of the potential for being defrauded in simple everyday situations, such as signing up for a magazine subscription or making an average purchase online. The definition of consumer fraud ranges from being duped to pay a higher than necessary rate on a variety of items and services, to the more severe end of the spectrum, which involves identity theft.

In general, we (as a society) are much more aware of the constant potential of being scammed, and technological advances have prevented some cases of Internet fraud, but not all. In order to be avoid being a victim of consumer fraud, there are certain things you can do.

For instance, avoid giving your credit card number, social security number or any other important financial information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact and are certain of the person or institution with whom you are dealing.

Be on the lookout for sure signs of consumer fraud such as: using high-pressure wording like, “Act now or miss this opportunity!” Be very wary of any business demanding payment upfront, especially if you have been told you’ve won something, but you must make a payment to claim your prize. The chances of prize claiming scenarios turning out to be consumer fraud are nearly 100%.

And finally, if something sounds too good to be true (that you will make millions of dollars or a huge amount of profit with zero risks involved), you should walk away from that potential dealing immediately. Nobody gets rich quick – it’s that simple.

With all of this being said, if you have already been a victim of consumer fraud, or fear that you might have been, Veitengruber Law specializes in writing these types of wrongs by seeking out the scam artist and meeting him in court. You’ll need high quality help fighting consumer fraud, and you’ll want someone who has experience dealing with hustlers. We will help you get the results that you deserve. Like us on Facebook and your consultation will be free of charge!

Photo courtesy of Andres Rueda