Supplement to Money Matters “The scoop on scams”
Counterfeit money orders
Counterfeit U.S. postal money orders are showing up, according to Paul Krenn, postal inspector in Washington, D.C. Scammers using the fakes often pose as military personnel or college students overseas and use e-mail or Internet chat rooms to cash the money orders in exchange for a fee.
Krenn said that when you hold a real postal money order up to the light, you should be able to see Benjamin Franklin’s image in a watermark and a dark security thread with “USPS” running from top to bottom.
And you may have heard about the Canadian lottery scam that requires a “winner” to send money to cover taxes and tariffs before the winnings are sent.
According to the Better Business Bureau in Louisville, no legitimate lottery or sweepstakes notifies its winners by phone or asks for money.
Also, hang up on telemarketers if they offer to send a courier to pick up your check or ask for your checking account or credit-card numbers.
Health-insurance fraud is on the rise, too, warns insurance expert Milia Kofman. Caution flags should go up if the firm quotes very low premiums or claims it is not subject to state regulation, says Kofman, an assistant research professor at Georgetown University Health Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
Sheriff Maiden cautions that if your instincts tell you to back off and check out a person or promise, nine times out of 10 your instincts are going to be right.
To read the March 2006 Money Matters column that goes with this supplement, click here: The scoop on scams