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The dishonor roll: Top 10 ways Americans get scammed

  1. Telephone fraud, including "slamming" (unauthorized changing of long distance carrier) and "cramming" (billing for unauthorized services such as call waiting, voice messaging, etc.)

  2. Direct mail and mail order scams, including undelivered or unordered goods, negative-option magazine/book/video solicitations (in which they consider you to have bought the item unless you notify them that you don't want it) and fraudulent billing.

  3. Telemarketing scams, including advance-fee loans, lottery cons, pyramid schemes and phony investments.

  4. Scholarship scams. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators estimates that some 350,000 people lose $5 million a year to financial aid scams, including money-back-guarantee pitches for help with college applications and financial aid.

  5. Internet or "dot-con" fraud, including phony auctions, credit card fraud, make-money-from-home scams, unauthorized long distance charges, misleading rebate offers and deceptive advertising.
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  6. Travel scams, especially unusually inexpensive holiday and Spring Break packages aimed at students.

  7. Motor vehicle sales and repairs, including deceptive sales practices, unnecessary repairs and overcharging for service.

  8. Home contractor scams, including unnecessary repairs, misrepresentation, bill padding, shoddy workmanship and door-to-door scams such as paving, yard work and "free" service inspections.

  9. Credit repair, including scams that "clean up" your credit record, deceptive marketing of bill consolidation services, home mortgages and equity loans.

  10. Identity theft, including credit card, Social Security and account numbers, and other personal information useful in obtaining unlawful access to your cash or credit line. The FBI estimates there are 350,000 to 500,000 incidents of identity theft in the United States each year.

Source: The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection

Jay MacDonald is a contributing editor based in Florida

-- Posted: Nov. 21, 2000

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See Also
Main story:
10 most creative swindles from today's clever cons
Consumers sue over changes in "fixed' rates (10/25/00)
Study finds 1 in 10 are victims of card fraud (9/27/00)
Watch out for the "guaranteed credit card" scam (4/3/00)

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