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Wednesday, October 10 2012

Freddie Mac’s fraud unit is teaming up with real estate professionals who list HomeSteps homes to sniff out bogus rental ads of REO properties — a growing problem, according to Freddie Mac.

“We’re hearing more reports about fraudsters trying to cash in on the housing crisis’s remaining foreclosed homes by advertising them as rentals on the Internet,” writes Freddie Mac in a recent blog post warning about the Craigslist REO rental scams.

The scam works like this: After a house is sold at foreclosure, a scammer then posts an ad online trying to rent out the home before the new owner moves in. Interest renters then contact the scammer about leasing the property, and they are asked to submit their personal credit information for the lease application as well as two months of rent.

It’s often not until the would-be renters try to move in that they realize they’ve been duped: The key to the house doesn’t work or they find the house is for sale or even that the previous owners are still living there. There have been some cases where scammers change the locks in the house and give the renters a working key. It’s the real estate listing agent who then often discovers the renters living there and the scam.

Freddie Mac and real estate professionals are working together to find the fake Internet rental ads. When they do, they are having the ads removed immediately. They’re also warning renters on how not to be duped from the ads, such as always verifying the home’s status through a listing agent or through county records.

Source: “Caveat Renter: Fraudsters Falsely Advertising REO as Rentals,” Freddie Mac Blog (Oct. 8, 2012)

Posted by: Rolando trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 18 2012
Scammers have targeted delinquent borrowers during the past few years, hoping to take advantage of their desperation and financial inexperience. Their approach typically involves posing as a representative of a nonprofit or government agency who can help with a loan modification or some other form of assistance.

Sheri Stuart, education manager at Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Counseling, says she frequently encounters consumers at courses offered by her organization who have been victimized by these scams. Stuart says she recently met a couple from Southern California at one of these events who’d paid $3,000 to a fraudulent company in an attempt to keep their home out of foreclosure.

“It’s disconcerting,” she says. “It has a ripple effect. It not only affects the home owners, it affects the communities as well.”

To keep more consumers from being taken in by these scams, Stuart offers the following four red flags to help determine whether borrowers’ knight in shining armor is actually a swindler on the make:

1. They ask for money up front. “That’s usually an indication that someone has an ulterior motive,” Stuart says.

2. “Phantom help” appears out of nowhere. If a consumer hasn’t proactively contacted anyone about missed mortgage payments, but suddenly gets calls and mail about getting help for missed mortgage payments, it’s probably a scammer.

3. They present phony credentials. Many companies that claim to offer assistance will have official-looking seals from credentialing institutions on paperwork, promotional materials, and Web sites. Research those organizations to make sure they actually exist.

4. They make promises they can’t deliver. If they make ambitious guarantees about being able to modify loans or halt foreclosures, that should set off alarm bells. “Nobody can promise you a loan mod,” Stuart says.

If your clients suspect they have been or are being targeted, point them to Loanscamalert.org to get more information and report the scammers.

By Brian Summerfield, REALTOR® Magazine http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2012/01/13/4-ways-id-borrower-assistance-scammers

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 08 2011
Some scam artists are preying on home owners looking to refinance using the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program. As such, federal agencies are banding together forming a task force aimed at cracking down on con artists who are falsely claiming they can save home owners’ mortgages through HAMP, HousingWire reports.

The new task force recently issued a warning to home owners looking to refinance their mortgage: Only your mortgage servicer can grant you a loan modification through HAMP so don’t be duped by scam artists saying they can help with HAMP. Any third-party promising to guarantee a loan modification or pre-approve a loan modification or trying to charge an advance fee for a loan modification may be involved in a scam, the agencies warned in a public statement.

The task force cautions home owners to "beware of individuals or companies that ask you for payment and tout success rates or claim to be experts in HAMP."

The federal agencies involved in the HAMP fraud investigations are the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Department of the Treasury.

To check on the validity of companies or individuals who display HAMP seals or logos, call the HOPE hotline, 888-995-HOPE.

Source: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2011/12/02/federal-agencies-crack-down-hamp-fraud

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, September 27 2011

Crooks go where the money is. So with Americans spending as much as $22 billion a year on construction projects, it’s no surprise that home improvement has become a favorite target for fraud artists. Some of these shady characters use amazingly well-polished contractor scams that are tricky to spot until it’s too late.

The vast majority of contractors are honest, hardworking professionals. Protecting yourself against the few bad apples requires checking references, having a solid contract, and being alert to the warning signs of these top five contractor scams.

Scam 1: I’ll need the money up front

This is the most common ruse reported to the Better Business Bureau. Your contractor explains that because he has to order materials and rent earthmoving equipment to get the job started, he needs, say, 30% to 50% of the project price up front. Once you’ve forked over the dough, one of two things happens: He disappears on you, or he starts doing slapdash work knowing that you can’t really fire him because he’s sitting on thousands of your dollars.

How to protect yourself: Never prepay more than $1,000 or 10% of the job total, whichever is less. That’s the legal maximum in some states, and enough to establish that you’re a serious customer so the contractor can work you into his schedule—the only valid purpose of an advance payment. As to the materials and backhoe rentals, if he’s a professional in good standing, his suppliers will provide them on credit.

Scam 2: Take my word for it

When you first meet with the contractor, he’s very agreeable about doing everything exactly to your specifications and even suggests his own extra touches and upgrades. Some of the details don’t make it into the contract, but you figure it doesn’t matter because you had such a clear verbal understanding.

Pretty soon, you notice that the extras you’d discussed aren’t being built. When you confront the contractor, he tells you that he didn’t include those features in his price, so you’ll have to live without them or pony up additional money to redo the work.

How to protect yourself: Unfortunately, you have no legal recourse because you signed a contract that didn’t include all the details. Next time, make sure everything you’ve agreed on is written into the project description. Add any items that are missing, put your initials next to each addition, and have the contractor initial it, too—all before you sign.

Scam 3: I don’t need to pull a permit

You’re legally required to get a building permit for any significant construction project. That allows building officials to visit the site periodically to confirm that the work meets safety codes.

On small interior jobs, an unlicensed contractor may try to skirt the rule by telling you that authorities won’t notice. On large jobs that can’t be hidden, the contractor may try another strategy and ask you to apply for a homeowner’s permit, an option available to do-it-yourselfers.

But taking out your own permit for a contractor job means lying to authorities about who’s doing the work. And it makes you responsible for monitoring all the inspections—since the contractor doesn’t answer to the inspector, you do.

How to protect yourself: Always demand that the contractor get a building permit. Yes, it informs the local tax assessor about your upgrade, but it weeds out unlicensed contractors and gives you the added protection of an independent assessment of the work.

Scam 4: We ran into unforeseen problems

The job is already under way, perhaps even complete, when this one hits. Suddenly your contractor informs you that the agreed-upon price has skyrocketed. He blames the discovery of structural problems, like a missing beam or termite damage, or design changes that you made after the job began.

The additional fees might very well be legit, but some unscrupulous contractors bid jobs low to get the work and then find excuses to jack up the price later. If you’re unsure whether your contractor is telling the truth about structural problems, you can get an impartial opinion from a home inspector, the local branch of the National Association of Home Builders, or even your local building department.

How to protect yourself: Before signing the contract, make sure it includes a procedure for change orders—mini-contracts containing a work description and a fixed price—for anything that gets added to the job in progress. The extra work, whether it’s related to unforeseen building issues or homeowner whims, can proceed only after the change order is signed by both homeowner and contractor.

Scam 5: I’ve got extra materials I can sell you cheap

This hoax is usually run by driveway paving companies, whose materials—hot-top asphalt and concrete—can’t be returned to the supplier. So the crew pulls up to your house with a load of leftover product and quotes a great price to resurface your driveway on the spot.

Even if it’s really a bargain (by no means a sure thing), taking them up on the offer is risky if you have no idea who they are and haven’t checked references. And if the driveway starts cracking next year, you can bet you won’t find this bunch again.

How to protect yourself: Never hire a contractor on the spot, whether it’s a driveway paver, an emergency repairman who shows up after a major storm, or a landscaper with surplus plantings. Take your time to check contractors out to make sure they have a good reputation and do quality work.


A former carpenter and newspaper reporter, Oliver Marks has been writing about home improvements for 16 years. He’s currently restoring his second fixer-upper with a mix of big hired projects and small do-it-himself jobs.

Source: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/top-5-contractor-scams-and-how-avoid-them/6/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, June 22 2011
Some home owners are getting a surprise when a person shows up on their doorstep, with a lease agreement in hand, saying that he or she is renting out their home, which isn’t for rent but for sale.

Law enforcement and real estate professionals are finding a growing scam involving for-sale listings being promoted as rentals--without home owners’ consent.

Scammers are taking listing information of homes for-sale--including photos--and then reposting that information on rental sites and tweaking it to pass the home off as a rental. The scammers then use a fake lease agreement and collect rent from unsuspecting consumers.

And when the scammers don’t present keys for the property, they give the unsuspecting renter permission to call a locksmith to gain access to the home.

Les Sulgrove, president of the Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS®, recently issued a warning to association members about the scam. He suggested real estate professionals set up Google alerts for the home addresses they’re listing so they’ll learn if their clients’ information is being misused on another site.

“All it takes is cutting, pasting, and changing some key pieces of data,” Geoff Greenwood, spokesperson for the Iowa Attorney General’s office, told the Des Moines Register. “People find out the hard way what they paid for wasn’t for sale or for rent.”

Source: “Growing Online Scam Uses Legitimate for-sale Home Listings to Trick Renters,” Des Moines Register (June 5, 2011)
http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2011060901?OpenDocument
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 01 2010

With a national unemployment rate hovering around 9% and increased confusion in the marketplace surrounding foreclosure processing and bank foreclosure freezes, loan modification scam artists continue to adapt their messaging and high-pressure sales tactics to take advantage of home owners who are struggling or unable to make their mortgage payments each month.

“Loan modification scam artists are slick and relentless. They are using every trick in the book to prey upon home owners during a very stressful time,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, chief operating officer of NeighborWorks® America. “Consumers need to learn the warning signs of a loan modification scam, and report the scam artists that they encounter so they can protect themselves, and their friends and family, when seeking a solution to foreclosure or seeking a loan modification.”

Loan modification scam tricks aren’t always easy to spot. The warning signs include:

  • Asking for a fee in advance to work with your lender to modify, refinance, or reinstate your mortgage. They may pocket your money and do little or nothing to help you save your home from foreclosure.
  • They tell you to pay them instead of the mortgage. Never send a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage lender. The minute you have trouble making your monthly payment, contact your mortgage lender.
  • A promise to stop foreclosure or get your loan modified. Nobody can guarantee to stop foreclosure or modify your loan. Legitimate, trustworthy HUD-approved counseling agencies will only promise they will try their very best to help you.
  • Claims that they offer a “government-approved” or “official government” loan modification. Your lender can tell you whether you qualify for any government programs to prevent foreclosure. Remember, you do not have to pay to benefit from government-backed loan modification programs.

Where should home owners turn when facing foreclosure or seeking a loan modification? HUD-approved nonprofit housing counselors in their community offer free help to home owners facing foreclosure.

Counselors work one-on-one with their clients to examine their financial outlook and determine the best option for the home owner, whether it’s a loan modification, forbearance, or any other tools that their bank currently offers to home owners in danger of foreclosure.

To find a nonprofit housing counseling organization in your community, visit www.LoanScamAlert.org or call the HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              888-995-HOPE      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (4673) to speak to a HUD-approved nonprofit housing counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and 20 additional languages.

For more information about loan modification scams, the warning signs of loan scams, and the Loan Scam Alert campaign, visit www.LoanScamAlert.org. Consumers can also report loan modification scam artists on LoanScamAlert.org.

The campaign web site is also available in Spanish at www.AlertaFraudedeHipoteca.org. Campaign materials are also available in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Source: NeighborWorks® America



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/would-you-recognize-foreclosure-scam/#ixzz142o9pMDe
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 10:16 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, September 19 2010

Refinancing a mortgage to a lower interest rate can make sense for some homeowners. So too can taking out a home equity loan against the value you’ve built up, perhaps to finance a kitchen remodel or pay Junior’s college tuition. What doesn’t make sense is losing your home because you fall for home equity loan and refinancing scams such as loan flipping and equity stripping. Although scam artists can be very convincing, homeowners who know what to look out for are less likely to become victims.

 

Loan flipping

Loan flipping is a scam targeted at homeowners looking to get money back when they refinance a mortgage. This is often referred to as a cash-out refi. Scammers take advantage of this desire to tap the equity in a home to pay for things the homeowner couldn’t otherwise afford.

A cash-out refi in itself isn’t a scam. For some, it’s a smart way to borrow. What is a scam is when a lender, after receiving a few payments, comes back to you with an offer of another refinance, this time to fund a vacation or a new car. The easy money is difficult for some homeowners to turn down.

Many borrowers don’t realize how much they’re paying in fees to refinance. The U.S. Federal Reserve estimates the settlement costs on a typical refi to be 3% to 6% of the loan amount. Loan flippers often charge much more, plus they may quietly roll the settlement costs into the loan to disguise the total charges. Take a day or two to get quotes from several lenders and compare terms.

Loan flipping ultimately leaves you with more debt and more years that you’ll owe on that debt. When the equity finally dries up, you might not be able to afford your higher monthly payments and another refinancing will be impossible. You could be forced to sell your home.

Equity stripping

Equity stripping can occur in several ways, but at its heart is a scam artist who gains ownership of your home, borrows against it or sells it, pockets the proceeds, and disappears. You’re often left with a hefty mortgage balance and no place to live.

A telling sign of equity stripping is a lender that offers more loan than you can afford or that encourages you to pad your income on a loan application. Homeowners with low incomes but a good amount of equity built up are prime targets because they otherwise would have a hard time borrowing. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, a lender that’s pushing a home loan with too-high monthly payments is likely counting of foreclosing on the property when you fall behind.

A variation on equity stripping has a scam artist talking you into selling your home at a discount or signing over the deed, perhaps with a promise of securing better loan terms if your name isn’t on it. The scammer promises to let you stay in the home as a renter until the refinancing is finalized, then you can buy back the home. In reality, the scam artist drains equity by borrowing against the house or selling the house, perhaps after evicting you.

According to Consumers Union, don’t agree to a home equity loan if you can’t afford it. A good rule of thumb: Your combined home loan payments shouldn’t exceed 28% of your gross income. The nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine also warns against signing any documents unless you understand them and turning over you property to anyone without first consulting a trusted adviser.

Phantom help

Watch out for unsolicited offers to refinance from companies claiming government affiliations. In particular, don’t be fooled by the use of official-sounding acronyms like “TARP” or official-looking website addresses. Scammers use these to gain your trust. Once they do, they’ll likely try to charge you for access to government assistance. Worse, they might extract enough personal information to commit identity theft.

You never need to pay to find out about legitimate government programs. A housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can point you in the right direction. For federal refinancing and loan modification help, check out the Making Home Affordable program.

New disclosure rules make spotting scams easier

Many unscrupulous lenders have relied on confusing paperwork to dupe borrowers into paying excessive upfront fees on loans. Others would pull last-minute rate switches at closing. Still others would disguise prepayment penalties, which can prove costly if you ever try to refinance again or retire a loan early.

Balloon payments, which come due at the end of a loan term, can also catch borrowers off-guard. A lender may offer a low monthly payment on an equity loan, but only because the payment is interest-only. The principal is due in one lump sum. Surprised homeowners must scramble to refinance again, tap other assets, or sell.

Disclosure rules that went into effect Jan. 1, 2010, make spotting these types of deceptions easier. All lenders are required to use redesigned Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 Settlement Statement forms that clearly disclose key loan terms—including interest rates, prepayment penalties, and balloon payments—and closing costs.

The GFE is an estimate of loan terms and closing costs, while the HUD-1 is a final accounting of terms and costs. The redesigned forms, cross-referenced by line number, must be used for mortgage refinancing and home equity loans (with the exception of home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs). The only fee a lender is allowed to collect to issue a GFE is a charge for a credit report, which averages $37.

If you don’t receive the new forms, don’t do business with the lender. If the estimates on the GFE don’t match the final figures on the HUD-1, ask why. Some, but not all, fees are allowed to increase within a fixed range.

Donna Fuscaldo has written about personal finance for Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox Business News for more than a decade. Like many homeowners, her mortgage is precariously close to being underwater.



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/avoid-home-equity-loan-and-refinancing-scams/#ixzz0zngXkMoC
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 17 2010
The Indiana State Police are investigating a cash based scam that involves sending money via a commercial wire service. The scam appears to be targeting only elderly residents with one couple losing more than $3,000.

How does it work? An unknown person will telephone an elderly resident and tell them that a family member has been arrested and needs bond money to be released from jail. The suspects will identify the victim’s family member, usually a son or daughter or grandchild, and then identify themselves as a ranking representative of a certain police agency.

Then the victim is told a lengthy set of unusual circumstances surrounding the arrest, often portraying the arrested family member as an unfortunate participant that happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The trap is now set and unsuspecting elderly family members begin the process of feeling sorry for their relative and engage in the conversation of how to wire the money to the police representative.

When the elderly victim conducts the initial wire transaction, a routing number is provided only to the victim. After the money is "wired" the victim is told to call the "police agency" back at a provided number. An unknown person will answer with the name of the police agency and when the victim requests to talk with the ranking officer they believe they had talked with previously, the person will "page" the requested officer. When that person answers, a conversation occurs where the victim is told to change the routing of the cash to a different city in the US. The routing number is then requested by the suspect and usually provided by the unsuspecting victim. Once the routing number is given, the cash can be obtained from any location in the world.

ISP reminds Hoosiers to use extra caution when dealing with unknown individuals by telephone or internet.

Posted by: Rolando Trentrini AT 09:53 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 18 2010
The FBI says it will renew its efforts to end mortgage fraud. A spokesman said last week that the FBI anticipates arresting hundreds in crackdowns scheduled over the coming weeks.

Offenses agents expect to find range from schemes that encourage borrowers to lie about their incomes to scams that rely on falsifying foreclosure information.

The FBI has set up 23 fraud task forces across the U.S. to carry out the anticipated sweep.

Source: Financial Times (06/11/2010) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2010061403?OpenDocument
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 03 2010

Home equity loan and refinancing scams can cost you more than money—these scams can cost you your house.

Refinancing a mortgage to a lower interest rate can make sense for some homeowners. So too can taking out a home equity loan against the value you’ve built up, perhaps to finance a kitchen remodel or pay Junior’s college tuition. What doesn’t make sense is losing your home because you fall for home equity loan and refinancing scams such as loan flipping and equity stripping. Although scam artists can be very convincing, homeowners who know what to look out for are less likely to become victims.

 

Loan flipping

Loan flipping is a scam targeted at homeowners looking to get money back when they refinance a mortgage. This is often referred to as a cash-out refi. Scammers take advantage of this desire to tap the equity in a home to pay for things the homeowner couldn’t otherwise afford.

A cash-out refi in itself isn’t a scam. For some, it’s a smart way to borrow. What is a scam is when a lender, after receiving a few payments, comes back to you with an offer of another refinance, this time to fund a vacation or a new car. The easy money is difficult for some homeowners to turn down.

Many borrowers don’t realize how much they’re paying in fees to refinance. The U.S. Federal Reserve estimates the settlement costs on a typical refi to be 3% to 6% of the loan amount. Loan flippers often charge much more, plus they may quietly roll the settlement costs into the loan to disguise the total charges. Take a day or two to get quotes from several lenders and compare terms.

Loan flipping ultimately leaves you with more debt and more years that you’ll owe on that debt. When the equity finally dries up, you might not be able to afford your higher monthly payments and another refinancing will be impossible. You could be forced to sell your home.

Equity stripping

Equity stripping can occur in several ways, but at its heart is a scam artist who gains ownership of your home, borrows against it or sells it, pockets the proceeds, and disappears. You’re often left with a hefty mortgage balance and no place to live.

A telling sign of equity stripping is a lender that offers more loan than you can afford or that encourages you to pad your income on a loan application. Homeowners with low incomes but a good amount of equity built up are prime targets because they otherwise would have a hard time borrowing. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, a lender that’s pushing a home loan with too-high monthly payments is likely counting of foreclosing on the property when you fall behind.

A variation on equity stripping has a scam artist talking you into selling your home at a discount or signing over the deed, perhaps with a promise of securing better loan terms if your name isn’t on it. The scammer promises to let you stay in the home as a renter until the refinancing is finalized, then you can buy back the home. In reality, the scam artist drains equity by borrowing against the house or selling the house, perhaps after evicting you.

According to Consumers Union, don’t agree to a home equity loan if you can’t afford it. A good rule of thumb: Your combined home loan payments shouldn’t exceed 28% of your gross income. The nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine also warns against signing any documents unless you understand them and turning over you property to anyone without first consulting a trusted adviser.

Phantom help

Watch out for unsolicited offers to refinance from companies claiming government affiliations. In particular, don’t be fooled by the use of official-sounding acronyms like “TARP” or official-looking website addresses. Scammers use these to gain your trust. Once they do, they’ll likely try to charge you for access to government assistance. Worse, they might extract enough personal information to commit identity theft.

You never need to pay to find out about legitimate government programs. A housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can point you in the right direction. For federal refinancing and loan modification help, check out the Making Home Affordable program.

New disclosure rules make spotting scams easier

Many unscrupulous lenders have relied on confusing paperwork to dupe borrowers into paying excessive upfront fees on loans. Others would pull last-minute rate switches at closing. Still others would disguise prepayment penalties, which can prove costly if you ever try to refinance again or retire a loan early.

Balloon payments, which come due at the end of a loan term, can also catch borrowers off-guard. A lender may offer a low monthly payment on an equity loan, but only because the payment is interest-only. The principal is due in one lump sum. Surprised homeowners must scramble to refinance again, tap other assets, or sell.

Disclosure rules that went into effect Jan. 1, 2010, make spotting these types of deceptions easier. All lenders are required to use redesigned Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 Settlement Statement forms that clearly disclose key loan terms—including interest rates, prepayment penalties, and balloon payments—and closing costs.

The GFE is an estimate of loan terms and closing costs, while the HUD-1 is a final accounting of terms and costs. The redesigned forms, cross-referenced by line number, must be used for mortgage refinancing and home equity loans (with the exception of home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs). The only fee a lender is allowed to collect to issue a GFE is a charge for a credit report, which averages $37.

If you don’t receive the new forms, don’t do business with the lender. If the estimates on the GFE don’t match the final figures on the HUD-1, ask why. Some, but not all, fees are allowed to increase within a fixed range.

Donna Fuscaldo has written about personal finance for Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox Business News for more than a decade. Like many homeowners, her mortgage is precariously close to being underwater.

Source: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/avoid-home-equity-loan-and-refinancing-scams/

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, January 17 2010

EVANSVILLE - Many people are opening their hearts and wallets to help those in need in Haiti, but the FBI wants everyone to be careful who they give their money to.  Officials said past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted scams.

The FBI provided this list of things to look for before making a donation:

• Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.

• Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.

• Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group's existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.

• Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.

• Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the
donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.

• Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Officials ask that anyone who gets such an e-mail or may have been a victim of this kind of scam to notify the Internet Crime Compliant Center at www.ic3.gov.

The IC3 is a joint effort between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance to report and alert authorities of online scams.

Source: http://www.news25.us/Global/story.asp?S=11821982

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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The Trentini Team
F.C. Tucker EMGE REALTORS®
7820 Eagle Crest Bvd., Suite 200
Evansville, IN 47715
Office: (812) 479-0801
Cell: (812) 499-9234
Email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com


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