Scam artists and deceptive businesses prey on unsuspecting consumers by offering deals that really are too good to be true. However, knowledge is power – be armed with the information you need by meeting with a Financial Empowerment Center counselor for a FREE one-on-one session. Call (517) 483-4550 for your appointment today.
Here are some quick tips on how to avoid being a victim of predatory financial practices.
- Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information (your name, Social Security number, bank and credit card account numbers, address) to steal from you or create new accounts in your name without your permission. You can protect yourself against identity theft by:
- Shredding all mail and papers that have your personal information on them before you throw them away.
- Checking your credit report regularly for any suspicious activity
- Checking your bank, credit union and credit card statements every month for any unfamiliar charges
- Keeping track of whether your bills came in the mail when they were supposed to. Thieves may call your bank, credit union or credit card companies posing as you, and ask to change the billing address so that you do not notice the theft right away.
- If you believe your identity has been stolen, make an appointment with a Lansing Financial Empowerment Center counselor right away! We're here to help you, at no cost to you. Just call 211 (or 1-866-561-2500).
Learn about the top five scams, and how to protect yourself from them.
Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs)
A RAL is a high-interest loan usually offered by a tax preparer. These so-called "instant" or "24-hour" refunds are actually loans that come with fees and interest that reduce the amount of any refund anticipation check. This loan could cost you up to 30% of your total refund. With direct deposit of your refund, your wait should be about ten days. Paying hundreds of dollars to get your money a few days faster is an unfair business practice! Worse yet, if your refund amount turns out to be incorrect for any reason, you will have to pay back the money you received.
Debt Collection and Debt Collection Scams
"Michigan consumers are falling behind on paying bills for all types of reasons, including job losses, increased mortgage payments, or medical emergencies. Because dealing with debts and debt collectors can be frightening and overwhelming, this consumer alert provides background on the do's and don'ts of debt collection, and tips on how to spot and avoid debt collection scams." - Bill Schuette, Attorney General
Read more about your rights and what's legal when it comes to debt collectors here.