Well scammers have figured out a similar way to prey on elders who have been ripped off once -- offering phony "rescue" services -- they figure out when a consumer has been ripped off (maybe they work with the person who ripped off the consumer) and then they move in, offering to help you recover from the first rip-off. But the second one is even worse!
Below is a bulletin from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the most useful federal agency going, and one targeted for destruction by a number of people in Congress (for, you guessed it, being the most useful federal agency, standing up for real people in America, and making a number of banks and other shady businesses unhappy).
If you think you have been ripped off and ESPECIALLY if someone tries to approach you about recovering from scams, consult a real, licensed consumer attorney.
You can find attorneys who ONLY represent consumers and who NEVER represent businesses against a consumer by searching the website for the National Association of Consumer Advocates.
Older Consumers Targeted By Fraudsters Not Once, But Twice!
By Stacy Canan and Cora Hume
After reviewing complaints submitted by consumers, we have discovered a financial scam targeting older consumers who had previously been victims of fraudulent money-making schemes, such as bogus timeshare investments and in-home business opportunities. So-called asset recovery companies are contacting these past victims, promising to get refunds for a substantial fee, failing to deliver promised services, and leaving consumers financially worse off than before.
What does this scam look like?
The asset recovery company contacts the defrauded older consumer claiming that they can get their money back for an upfront fee of several hundred to thousands of dollars. The company often claims it has unique expertise to help victims of fraud recover their funds. Once the older consumer pays the upfront fee, the company fails to perform any service that the consumer could not have done themselves.
For example, if the consumer used a credit card to pay the original scammer, the asset recovery company usually will do nothing beyond disputing the charge with the credit card company, which the consumer can do themselves, for free. They often submit a complaint to an agency that does not charge anything to process a complaint – like us, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Moreover, they often do not even adequately follow through with the worthless services they offer; filing claims that are too old to be legally valid or without proper documentation to support the consumer’s claims.
Don’t Be Scammed Twice!
Ways to Protect Yourself.
Here are some warning signs that can help you avoid becoming a victim of an asset recovery scam:
- Upfront fees to recover money -- Don’t pay for any part of a service that has not been performed. You have the right to refuse service and verify the legitimacy of any organization.
- Claims of insider information and connections –-- Submitting complaints to federal agencies, such as the CFPB or the Federal Trade Commission, or state attorneys general offices are free to the public and easy to use. Private companies do not have special access to these free consumer complaint resources.
How do I get help?
- Requests for secrecy -- Never allow anyone to discourage you from seeking information, support, and advice from family members, friends, or trusted advisors before making a financial transaction.
Alert your bank or credit card company immediately if you believe you have been a victim of fraud. Be sure to ask the bank to prohibit future withdrawals, debits or credit card payments made by or to the scammer. If your bank account information, debit card or credit card number was used without your permission, ask the bank to restore the funds taken from your account. If asset recovery services you paid for with your credit card aren’t provided as promised, you might be able to dispute the charges.
If scammed, report it promptly to your local law enforcement office, and submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
If you have an issue with a financial product or service, you can submit a complaint to us at consumerfinance.gov/complaint.
What Resources Do We Offer?
The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) is a nationwide membership organization of more than 1500 attorneys who represent hundreds of thousands of consumers victimized by fraudulent, abusive, and predatory business practices. NACA members are committed to advancing the cause of just treatment for and ethical representation of consumers.
As an organization devoted to consumer justice, we are committed to educating consumers like you about their rights and helping them achieve justice for themselves and for their communities. Look around our website to learn about some of your basic rights, to find some help, and to join with us in our effort to build a fair and just consumer marketplace.
Know Your Rights
Don’t be taken advantage of by lenders, dealers, debt collectors, or other small and large businesses. Know your rights so that you are treated fairly and so that you can join us in building a fair and just consumer marketplace. Use the navigational menu to the right to discover what your rights are in certain situations.
Find An Attorney
NACA member attorneys are committed to advancing the cause of just treatment for and ethical representation of consumers and will not, so long as they are a NACA member, perform services for any business or commercial client on a matter where that client’s interests are adverse to the interests of consumers.
Share Your Story
We realize that your experience has likely been very difficult and you may not want to retell your story, but by sharing your story you will be helping us drive national and local debates as well as discussions with policymakers. You have the ability to potentially make a difference so that other consumers don't have to endure what you've gone through.