Scam Protection

Scamming homeowners is nothing new, but with the passage of time scammers’ techniques change and evolve. As we age it appears that our judgment can err a bit more. So here are some tips on how to recognize a scam and what to do with it. If you have just invested in some real estate or if you’ve owned your home for some time, your name and address are in the public records, available to anyone who wants to write you, here in Southern California or from anywhere. Looks are deceiving Many times scams come in the form of an official looking letter. In fact the envelope could carry the seal of the U.S. government, the State of California, your local county assessor, your bank, Social Security, etc. When you open it to read the contents, all still looking very official, with letterhead, logos and maybe even a slogan you’ve seen, you can look out for a few things:

  1. Does it ask you for your Social Security number (“for verification”)?
  2. Does it ask you for your account number?
  3. Does it ask you to call them to give them this information at a phone number in the letter?
  4. Does it pressure you to respond, perhaps by mentioning a negative consequence if you don’t respond?

No government entity, bank or legitimate business will ever ask you to provide this confidential information. They will ask you certain questions that you provide to them (with the answers). NEVER call the number provided to you. All government numbers can be found by calling Information or by using the Internet (Google, for example). If it’s a business, like your bank or a store, you can find the number the same way. Or you can physically go there. When you call them tell them about the letter you received. You may be transferred from an operator or receptionist, but it will be to the right person. Now you will be able to verify for certain if there truly does exist any type of issue between you and the store, bank or government institution. In the majority of the cases they will tell you that they never sent you anything except for your regular correspondence (monthly statement, bill, etc.). Now you know it is scam material. DON’T throw it out. Report it. This is how the authorities are able to trace these bad guys and they do get them. Eventually. You can call our local police (NOT 911, but their regular number) or the FBI. With practice you’ll develop a good eye for this and that’s a great feeling of empowerment. Now you can foil the bad guys and help your friends.

Following is a link to an article about a guy who thought his fees were too high. It’s from the Daily News.

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