The President and the Congress are doing great things for the American people now. Programs that might dramatically improve your life are available. But never, never, NEVER just go out on the internet and search for programs. For every great idea or program there are countless hungry villains ready to capitalize on it and ready to take your money. Some will honestly say they’re offering a service for the fee. Others will not.
Posh and poppycock!!! When the government puts programs into effect to help the public, they do not intend to charge for those services or scam the public. We pay for government help when we pay our taxes.
Here’s just one of countless examples.
The new Making Homes Affordable Program can help some reduce their interest by 2% and/or renegotiate their mortgages. It’s a powerful program. If you search on Google for this program, depending on what terms you use to you’ll get easily 1.5 million links to pages where help and information is offered. Some are legitimate – some are not.
Many of the pages lead to people / companies that promise to help you get the help you need via these programs. They guarantee success in as much as 98% of the cases they handle – and they require upwards of $3,000 to get you the help you want. Some will tell you the money goes into a trust fund and you’ll get it back if they can’t get you the help you approved. They may tell you they’re registered with the Better Business Bureau. They may tell you they have all kinds of credentials and offer all kinds of testimonials.
This is not what Obama and the Congress intended. They are scams!
Here’s another example:
Countless of us are now doing our taxes online either on websites or using TurboTax or other tax software. If These are tremendously easy and convenient. Once your taxes are filed you may get emails that actually look legit to the inexperienced. They say something like there has been fraudulent reporting on your return – or you’re eligible for an additional tax refund. They may even have a .gov in the email address. Don’t believe a word of it. Don’t respond. Don’t click any link. Delete the email immediately. This is a pfishing / scam attempt.
And yet another:
With all the hoopla about government and humanitarian initiatives, no doubt you’re getting all kinds of requests for donations. The web is filled with these kinds of scams. If you give that donation, are you SURE the money is actually being used as you intend? You don’t unless you are very careful to go directly to the source.
- Always go directly to your Browser (never click a link in an email – even if it looks legit.
- Make sure you are actually going to a website that has:”.gov” in the address if it’s a government program.
- Look for the contact us page when you get there. You will find an email form on the page and/or a phone contact. To be SURE you’re on the right path call and ask before you proceed. Get a local contact wherever possible. If it’s a humanitarian initiative, you won’t see “.gov” but follow the same procedure to call or email and talk with someone in the organization directly.
All these scammers know that people like you and me – especially Seniors – need help. They know that we are passionate about the initiative they’re saying they promote. They know that we believe in doing the right thing and are willing to help whenever we can. They count on the fact that too many don’t know how to check the facts and too many are unfamiliar with the workings of the internet. They bank on the fact that many are just desperate enough to reach in their pockets to pay whatever is required to get the help we need as long as it sounds legit.
With the computers and sophisticated programs, scammers have every tool available to make themselves appear to be legitimate. They can make their websites look exactly like the real thing. They can hide real emails and real website addresses behind what looks like they’re official. Pert near any novice can do that.
A good rules of thumb:
- If you don’t have a real name and physical address that you can get to, don’t do anything until you check them out thoroughly!!
- Whenever you have the slightest doubt, stop and check with a local official that you know. Start with your local governmental agencies. And if you know how to find the real addresses of the governmental bodies, go directly there.
- If it’s government related – perhaps start by going to your local representative’s website and make that call. Find out what they have to tell you. They’ll generally be able to give you a name and phone number or email that you can use.
- Remember, the government doesn’t charge fees to help people like you and me get help but the help you need won’t be easy to find, so be persistent. If they have a program to help us, they should also have a method to help us get it – FREE.