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Consumer Tips

Email Fraud

We all get them. Some well-meaning friend, relative or co-worker sends a message with a get-rich-quick scheme. They sound so convincing, but are they too good to be true? Here are some guidelines…

  1. There is no way to track a text-only email message. A common hoax asks you to forward on an email to everyone you know. If, for example, 1000 people receive your email you'll be rewarded with cash, a free vacation, free M&M's, etc. In reality, someone is pulling your leg.

  2. Microsoft won't send you a check. Microsoft didn't get to be the richest software company in the world by handing out money. You can bet that any email you receive forwarded from Bill Gates or Microsoft is going to be a hoax. The same goes for emails from the CEO of Miller brewing offering free beer and Walt Disney Jr. offering a free vacation.

  3. You won't get something free. The lure of valuable, free items like computers or long- distance phone cards gets consumers to pay membership fees to sign up with these scams. After they pay the fee, consumers learn that they don't qualify for the free gift until they recruit other "members."

  4. Guaranteed Loans or Credit, On Easy Terms. Some offer home-equity loans, even if you don't have any equity in your home. Others offer guaranteed, unsecured credit cards, regardless of your credit history. The "loans" turn out to be lists of lending institutions and the credit cards never arrive.

  5. Bad credit can't just be "fixed." For an up-front fee, they offer to clear up a bad credit record or give you a completely clean credit slate by showing you how to get an Employer Identification Number. No one can erase a bad credit record if it's accurate and using an Employer Identification Number to set up a new credit identity is against the law.

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