Avoiding scams may mean changing the way you live

I was looking through all the e-mails and phone messages you've sent, trying to come up with ways you could avoid most scams.

I came up with three. So, if you follow these rules, you won't need my help.

1) Never buy a used car.

2) Never answer the phone or an email.

3) Never use your ATM card.

It's just that simple.

What? How can you go without those things? Am I crazy? Well, maybe a little.

They are top scam areas for a reason.

Scammers know how they are so tied in to the way we live.

So, if you can't avoid them, at least protect yourself.

Used cars

Dealer or no dealer, you must:

- get the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- check it with Carfax for accidents and odometer issues
- check it with the state for liens (money you'd have to pay before getting the title)
- take the car to a trusted mechanic before you buy (it might cost, but it's crucial)
If a dealer demands a deposit, make sure its refundable. Get that, and everything included in the contract, in writing.

Scams by phone

-if it's an unfamiliar number, let it go to voice mail.
-contact your service provider for blocking options
-if a telemarketer does get through, say no thanks, and hang up.

The longer you're on the phone, the more likely you'll be talked out of some big bucks.


- if you don't know the address, don't respond to it
- don't click on unfamiliar links  
- for all money-making, unsolicited job opportunities or contest winnings, delete, delete, delete!

ATM cards

They're fine to take money out of your bank. But, like credit cards, never use your account number on unfamiliar sites. Unlike credit cards, ATM money comes right out of your bank account and you'll have less of a chance getting it back.

While I'm at it, if anyone suggests you wire money or sends a check and wants you to send them one, it's a big time scam!

E-mail me with any consumer issue you have, or "like" my Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me about it there.

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