debt

5 scary paths that lead to damaging debt

Chilling scammers and hackers
Chilling scammers and hackers © alphaspirit/Shutterstock.com

Scams run the gamut from phony charities to sophisticated online thievery that can get you to open your wallet or give your credit card number.

"Your heart might be in the right place, but it is important that when donating money to charity that you do your homework to avoid being conned," Tayne says. If you are solicited via your front door or phone by a charity, research the company first to make sure they are a reputable, legitimate organization.

Also watch for fake debt settlement companies, Tayne says. "Look out for red flags. One of the common telltale signs with scamming is being asked for money upfront or not allowing for an in-person consultation."

Online scams are even more threatening, says Steve Weisman, author "The Truth About Avoiding Scams." The creepiest is keystroke-logging malware that steals your personal information off your electronic devices.

"People unwittingly download (malware) by clicking on links in tainted websites or emails. ... (The information) is sent to an identity thief who can use it to empty your accounts and get credit in your name," he says.

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