The con artist's philosophy is "the gullible were put on this earth to be gulled." In the past, con artists were usually referred to as con men. This is no longer the case as more and more women have become involved in con games and numerous variations of con games. Before we proceed with some tips on "how not to get conned" you should always remember that a con artist can be a male or a female. In addition, many times the con artist will work with a child who will assist them in accomplishing their goal. That goal is to GET YOUR MONEY.
Here are some good rules to follow all the time - whether or not you suspect a fraud:
Home Improvement Fraud
- Don't believe in something-for-nothing offers. You get what you pay for.
- Be suspicious of high-pressure sales efforts.
- Take your time; think about it before you part with your money.
- Get all agreements in writing. Insist that agreements be in plain English and not legalese.
- Read all contracts and agreements before signing. Have a lawyer examine all major contracts.
- Beware of anyone who comes to your door asking for money for charity or for personal reasons.
Home repairs and improvements can be costly. Watch out if:
- Somebody offers to do an expensive job for an unusually low price
- If a firm offers to make a "free" inspection or if the person just happened to be in the neighborhood.
The most popular home improvement frauds are roof repair and painting, driveway sealing, and termite inspection.
To avoid home improvement and repair fraud, try the following:
- Always get several estimates for every repair job, and compare prices and terms. Check to see if there is a charge for estimates.
- Ask your friends for recommendations. Alternatively, ask the firm for references - and CHECK THEM!
- Check the identification of all "inspectors."
- Call the loan Consumer Affairs office or the Better Business Bureau to check the company's reputation before you authorize any work.
- Be suspicious of high-pressure sales tactics.
- Pay by check - never with cash. Arrange to make the payments in installments.
Charity fraud does a lot of harm. The con artist takes advantage of people's good will and takes their cash - money that was meant for people in need. You can make sure that any money you give gets into the right hands. Just remember these tips when somebody asks you for a donation.
The Pigeon Drop
- Ask for identification - the organization AND the solicitor. Find out what the purpose of the charity is and how funds are used.
- Ask if contributions are tax deductible.
- If you're not satisfied with the answers-don't give.
- Give to charities that you know.
- Check out the ones you've never heard of before, or others whose names are similar to a well-known charity.
- Don't fall for high-pressure tactics. If solicitors won't take no for an answer, tell them NO anyway - BUT DON'T GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY.
- Be suspicious of charities that only accept cash.
- Always send a check made out to the charity and not the individual requesting the donation.
A person approaches you and says that he just found a large amount of money. What should he do with it? Maybe his "boss" can suggest something. He then leaves to check with his "boss" and comes back a few minutes later. His boss said to divide the money, but first, each of you must put up some, "good faith money". Once you hand over your share, you'll never see it or the con artist again.
The Bank Examiner
A con artist will contact you and tell you he is a bank official or police officer and that he needs your help to catch a dishonest bank teller. All you have to do is withdraw your savings and give the money to him so he can check the serial numbers. IF you do, you've been "stung". A real bank official would NEVER ask you to withdraw your money.
Is it hard to believe that people fall for such tricks? Con artists may be the greatest actors you'll ever meet. The pigeon drop and the bank examiner schemes are two of the most successful con games around. Don't be fooled. CALL THEIR BLUFF BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE.