The dishonor roll: Top 10 ways Americans
- Telephone fraud, including "slamming"
(unauthorized changing of long distance carrier) and "cramming"
(billing for unauthorized services such as call waiting, voice
- 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
- Telemarketing scams, including advance-fee
loans, lottery cons, pyramid schemes and phony investments.
- 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.
- Internet or "dot-con" fraud, including
phony auctions, credit card fraud, make-money-from-home scams,
unauthorized long distance charges, misleading rebate offers and
- Travel scams, especially unusually
inexpensive holiday and Spring Break packages aimed at students.
- Motor vehicle sales and repairs,
including deceptive sales practices, unnecessary repairs and overcharging
- Home contractor scams, including
unnecessary repairs, misrepresentation, bill padding, shoddy workmanship
and door-to-door scams such as paving, yard work and "free" service
- Credit repair, including scams that
"clean up" your credit record, deceptive marketing of bill consolidation
services, home mortgages and equity loans.
- 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.
Jay MacDonald is a contributing
editor based in Florida