Kip Tips


The Scams of 2009

Cameron Huddleston

The recession and housing crisis inspired many schemes over the past year.



Readers of this column had a lot to say when I wrote that scam artists had sent out e-mails supposedly from Citibank. You shared your own stories and tips on how to avoid cons.

I also warned you about a scam e-mail that told recipients their bank had failed and that they needed to download a file from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. There certainly was no shortage of scams over the past year. Many of them tried to take advantage of people hit hard by the recession.

For example, the sagging economy inspired several schemes that targeted the unemployed and homeowners behind on their mortgages. In Scams Exploit Hard Times, we wrote about a woman who receive a letter promising to help prevent foreclosure on her home -- if she sent a check for $921. She sent in the money and never heard back from the company.

Identity thieves went after job hunters by posing as prospective employers and asking for the Social Security numbers and other information from people who had posted their résumés online. Work-at-home schemes promised hundreds of dollars a week for little work but delivered no job after people sent in fees. These were just a few of the many job-search scams.

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Early in the year, we warned readers about stimulus-related schemes, including ads promising big checks and e-mails claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS, however, never send e-mails to taxpayers.

Consumer Reports has its own round-up schemes. Check out its list of the Top 10 Scams of 2009. And make sure you don't become a victim in 2010.



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