What to Do If You Have Been Scammed

Posted on 14. Apr, 2009 by in Featured Articles, What To Do?

What to do if you have been scammed

What to do if you have been scammed

Adrian Adams

In the late 1990s, a friend of mine received an email. It talked about an investment opportunity in an oil business. Since he was already in the same business, he found the proposal to be quite interesting. They talked about it more at length by email and it finally came to a point where all he needed to do was to hand over his share of the investment in person.So, he traveled all the way to Nigeria. The next thing he knew, he was penniless and stranded in a foreign land. Fortunately, some good souls helped him get a ticket home. However, things were never the same after that. He had lost a good amount of money and his own business never got back on its feet. My good friend had become one of the many victims of a scam.

Every day I receive a good number of these emails from get rich quick businesses; all somewhat similar to the ever popular Nigerian scam. I get an average of ten phishing emails a day. Every now and then I even get snail mail stating that I have won the lottery in some foreign country. People laugh at others who have been victimized by such scams. They always say how gullible some people are and how they’re smart enough never to fall for such a con. However, there are several proposals that are created so meticulously that it would appear to be genuine! The proposal can be so well made that one can’t help but get sucked in by the seemingly legal business talk. In this day and age, people get scammed. If you do find yourself in such a harrowing situation, it’s not the end of the world. You CAN do something about it.

First and foremost, don’t cover it up! People tend to not talk about it because it seems so embarrassing. They don’t like being thought of as a fool. However, telling everyone about your ordeal helps in so many ways. It lets everyone know that such scams exist. It helps people understand that anyone can be victimized and it helps to institute programs to educate others on how scammers operate. More importantly, the information may even help the authorities find the scammer.

Report your ordeal to the authorities. There are several existing laws already in place that deal with internet fraud. The police can help you file a formal complaint and even forward a copy of the complaint to the jurisdiction where the scammer is located. You can also report the scam to Econsumer dot gov. Your report may be entered into the Consumer Sentinel, which is a consumer database of complaints which is maintained by the US FTC (US Federal Trade Commission). If entered, all of those details of your complaint will be able to be easily accessed by numerous certified law enforcement agencies.

If you paid by credit card, you can ask your bank for a charge back. Banks may be willing to cancel the charges or reverse the payment. However, you must do this as soon as possible since there are time limits on such complaints. Informing your credit card provider and bank are even more important if you have given sensitive personal information to a scammer. The sooner that you can alert your credit card companies, banks and consumer reporting agencies, the better!

Remember, time is of the essence! The sooner you act, the better your chances will be of recovering what you have lost.

About the Author:
Visit Learn About Minnesota Law | The Law Way and learn more about legal topics.

How to Recognize Mortgage Fraud

Posted on 14. Apr, 2009 by in Featured Articles, Real Estate

Mortgage Fraud?

Mortgage Fraud?

Helen Hecker

Mortgage fraud is on the rise today in the housing market, significantly so since 2001. In a real estate market where mortgage fraud was few and far between it has grown to high levels for both buyers and sellers and has created havoc and financial damage in the lives of many homeowners and home buyers. First-time home buyers and seniors are two of the highly targeted markets for home mortgage scams.

Mortgage fraud actually refers to a variety of scams. Most of these scams involve inflating the value of a house or other real property for more than its value and the scammer pockets the difference. It significantly affects your home buying, home-selling and home equity. It can raise its ugly head for subprime loans, foreclosures and reverse mortgages. It also can affect insider trading as it relates to mortgage securities.

The following tips will show you how you can avoid these scams and stop or spot mortgage fraud. It’ll help you become informed and prepared if you’re a homeowner looking to refinance or sell your home or if you’re a home buyer.

Be wary of any investment opportunities that offer “no money down” or “cash back at closing.” Be wary of adjustable mortgage interest rates and thoroughly understand what this means before you go this route.

Adjustable interest rates have created many home bad credit problems. Many home buyers just did not understand or were not fully informed about the future jump in interest rates and what that would mean. Many home buyers were not prepared for these high interest rates.

Make sure to check the history of the sales on the property. How many previous owners were there for the property? If there have been several sales within a short time it indicates the values are inflated.

Make sure to have your own real estate agent, real estate professional or real estate appraiser establish the value. Your best bet is to hire you own appraiser or a bank official who can validate the property price in case it’s inflated. This can be hard to tell in rapidly rising or falling markets. Scammers who are intent on fraud will pay an appraiser for the appraisal and report they want.

Make sure they are using comparables – that is getting the prices on similar properties that have sold in your area – not the prices on listed homes that haven’t sold. Check with your local tax assessor or whoever records the deeds to the property to make sure that the seller really does have title or own the property.

Common sense would tell you never to let anyone else use your name or Social Security number to buy a home or other property, even if they offer to pay you. But believe it or not this does happen.

Make sure to read and understand everything on your contract and other documents that you’re asked to sign. Talk to your real estate agent if you have one or a real estate attorney if you need anything explained.

If any of the documents have any blank areas or have any information that is not accurate, don’t sign. Check to make sure that your income is not overstated, the, source of your down payment is correct, the sales price is right, the type and length of your employment and states your intention to live in or on the property as your primary residence not use it for a rental if that’s the agreement.

Make sure to deal directly with the mortgage broker you’ve been working with or directly with the lender. Don’t let anyone lese handle or arrange your loan for you. Make sure you get a copy of all the signed closing documents.

Make sure to watch out for any of the older folks or first-time home buyers you know who may be unfamiliar with real estate transactions and real estate financing.

Mortgage fraud is most rampant in Nevada, California, Florida, Arizona and Illinois so if you live in these states watch out.

Much of the real estate fraud or mortgage fraud or scams are due to real estate insiders – mortgage brokers, lenders, loan officials and real estate brokers.

For example: your real estate broker insists that you use a certain lender or they have a mortgage company on site or in the same complex. Sure, many can be on the up and up but some are not. Your real estate broker should help you find the best and not steer you to one that he is in cahoots with. You have the final say.

Don’t let any lender try to talk you into borrowing more money than you need or can afford. Make sure to take your time and don’t feel pressured or rushed. Beware of any nothing-down loans and altered information to qualify you for a home loan. Don’t borrow any money that you can’t afford to pay back.

Ask your family, friends, co-workers and associates, who you trust who have recently completed a home mortgage, for referrals to mortgage brokers, lenders or other real estate professionals. This would be true also for loan modifications and “restructuring” loans.

Lastly make sure you get the best credit and financial counseling, go to home buying classes, real estate financing seminars or workshops and brush up on your mortgage and home buying education before taking the plunge. Avoid mortgage fraud by knowing the pitfalls and proceed slowly and cautiously and get an honest real estate broker or professional for the best home mortgage experience.

About the Author:
For more info on bad credit real estate financing or finding the best home loan or home mortgage go to http://www.Real-Estate-Financing-Tips.com for real estate financing tips, trade secrets, help, quotes and resources including refinancing and creative financing

To Thine Own Self Be True – It’s Better for Business – What Arthur Anderson Would Say to His Company

Posted on 14. Apr, 2009 by in Business Ethics, Featured Articles

To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self Be True

Shel Horowitz

As a child, you probably heard, “to thine own self be true.” But what does that really mean? When the newspapers are full of cheating and lying business owners, politicians, and academics, does it really make sense to maintain your integrity?

To me, the answer is a clear, unwaffling YES! Without your integrity, you really don’t have a business or a career–just a waiting game until you world comes crashing down around you.

But fear of being caught isn’t the reason to live your life with integrity. The real reasons are that it helps you get to where you really want to be, and lets you feel really good about yourself.

Sometimes, integrity involves taking risks. Here’s an example from my own career:

A graphic artist and I were at a pitch meeting to produce some materials for our local Board of Realtors. The organization had registered a very obscure domain name that only had meaning for them.

The “safe” thing to do would have been to nod our heads and continue the conversation. But when we heard the domain name, the graphic artist and I exchanged looks, and we started telling the organization why the domain they’d picked would be a marketing disaster. I told the executive director to imagine giving out that name on the radio, and to look at a name that would reinforce the group’s identity and message.

We went out on a limb; this was a free consultation during a meeting to pitch for business, and if someone was really attached to the name, we might never have gotten the job. But we all brainstormed a bunch of better domain names–and then a few months later I got a call from the president of the largest real estate firm in the service area. He had been impressed at that meeting and came to me to rewrite the firm’s entire collection of a dozen or so brochures–a very juicy assignment. By advising the client that its course was strewn with obstacles, I had put myself in the position to receive a much, much larger assignment, one for which I was not competing against any other copywriters.

Over and over again in my life, I’ve achieved or drawn closer to my goals by turning down work I didn’t feel good about, refusing to compromise with my core principles, treating others with respect, and expecting high standards of others. I’ve even had to educate a few clients about plagiarism as I refused their assignments.

Arthur Andersen, the founder of the accounting firm that was driven out of business by integrity failure, lost a major account after refusing the company’s request to engage in exactly the sort of unethical accounting that later brought down his company–early in his career, when he wasn’t sure he could meet his next payroll. He told the client that there was “not enough money in the city of Chicago” to change his mind. Too bad his successors didn’t understand this!

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About the Author:
Copywriter, marketing consultant, and speaker Shel Horowitz is the author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First ( http://www.principledprofit.com), Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World (http://www.frugalmarketing.com), and other award-winning books.