Top 10 Tips to Avoid Consumer Scams

From the Office of Attorney General Lori Swanson

  1. Never disclose your credit card number, check routing information, or other banking information to telemarketers or other solicitors.
  2. Do not believe claims that you need to pay in order to "collect your winnings" from a contest or to obtain a line of credit.
  3. If you receive correspondence claiming that your financial institution, or account has been jeopardized, do not immediately disclose your account or other information. Contact the company at a telephone number or address that is listed in the telephone book, or that you know to be an accurate contact for the company.
  4. Be wary of solicitations asking you to wire money or send payment to a foreign country. It may be difficult for law enforcement officials to pursue lost funds outside of the jurisdiction of the United States.
  5. Do not send payment or wire money to a third party in response to a cashier's check or personal check "overpayment" in connection with your sale of a vehicle, product or service. Remember, just because the bank may make funds from a cashier's check available quickly does not mean the check is good. Financial institutions can take up to a week or longer to verify that a given cashier's check or personal check is legitimate.
  6. Never respond to correspondence regarding a foreign lottery. These lotteries are illegal!
  7. Do not open span email or "click" on attachments, images, or links in e-mail messages, instant messages or pop-up messages.
  8. When shopping online, always use a secure website (preferably one that offers encryption) or a well-known payment service. Do not disclose your PIN numbers or other sensitive information in connection with a purchase unless you are absolutely positive that you are dealing with a reputable company.
  9. Don't be rushed. People often make poor decisions when they are hurried. Most victims of scams later realize that if they had taken their time and thought it through, they would not have agreed to disclose their information or send money to a given scam operator. 
  10. If it sounds "too good to be true," it is.