Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stimulus Scams – don’t get hooked

The stimulus scam bandwagon is making its rounds on the internet in deceptive Web sites, advertisements and e-mail campaigns. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is getting the word out that Slick looking ads promise consumers thousands of dollars in stimulus grants – they only need to pay a small credit card fee, for as little as $1.99 (Each scam is different so beware). The scammers claim they’ll help you skip the red tape and take care of all the details for you. It’s a ruse of royal proportions. The $787-billion stimulus package is so complex, not even the Senators are really clear on what all is included.

These scam artists are exploiting that confusion with clever ads on Facebook, and on WordPress blogs that feature fake testimonials. Worse yet, the crooks could walk away with your identity.

Watch out for official-looking Internal Revenue Service (IRS) e-mails that promise stimulus payment. The IRS never requests private information via e-mail. Never give out your bank account information over the internet unless you are positive of the recipient.

Some of the bogus websites:

“Hi, my name is Jessica and I’m from Bloomfield Hills, MI. I started this blog because I want everyone to know how I went from being a struggling single mom to paying off all my debt in a few months simply by spending a couple minutes filling out a few forms online!”

A article said the state's consumer watchdog office warns about some of the scams it has detected:

• People are urged to give bank details so that their portion of stimulus money will be deposited into their bank accounts. The scam artists then empty the bank accounts.

• A person is asked to verify personal information to qualify for stimulus money; the scam artists then use the details to commit identity theft.

• A consumer is offered a list of economic stimulus grants, which supposedly include money for individuals, in exchange for charging as little as $1.99 on a credit card. The charge is actually a down payment for "negative-option billing," in which a consumer must decline the option of automatically receiving goods and being billed for them.

• Sometimes, a person only has to click on links provided in an e-mail to inadvertently download spyware used to steal personal information.

Words to the wise - watch out for these crooks.

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