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debt reduction scams

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									                                                                                                     FOR MORE INFORMATION:
                                          Sara Hijaz, ClearPoint Financial Solutions, Inc. | 804-222-4660 ext. 2748 | sara.hijaz@ClearPointFS.org
                                                                                       Mary Douglas, BCF | 757-497-4811 | mdouglas@bc-f.com



                                                            1-877-422-9044 | www.ClearPointFinancialSolutions.org

                        Stomp Out Credit Card Scams
                       ClearPoint Financial Solutions Offers Tips
                              on Avoiding Credit Scams
Richmond, Va., June 27, 2007 – Reducing debt and building wealth is a common goal among many of today’s
consumers. Unfortunately, there are those who prefer to accumulate their wealth dishonestly by taking advantage of
other’s resources. This can happen in a number of ways – over the phone, online, through the mail and even in person.
Scams can cost consumers more than just money out of their pocket: they can compromise their identity making them
one of the nine million American’s to fall victim to identity theft each year.
        “Scam artists are on the rise, and it’s more important than ever for consumers to be vigilant and educate
themselves on how to protect their credit from fraudulent activity,” said Ann Estes, vice president for client education
and counseling delivery for ClearPoint Financial Solutions. “Protecting your identity is just as important as protecting
your home. You would never go away for a day and leave your home unlocked. You should feel the same way about
protecting your identity.”
    The experts at ClearPoint Financial Solutions offer the following advice for safeguarding your information and
stomping out scams before they start.
    Telemarketing Scams
    According to the Alliance Against Fraud in Telemarketing (AAFT) Americans lose nearly $40 billion a year due to
telemarketing fraud. Top phone scams include: free prize offers, charitable solicitations, travel offers, investment
fraud, “900” numbers and advance-fee loan scams. This is not to say that all telemarketing solicitations are fraudulent,
as many are perfectly legitimate. To be safe though, consumers should consider the following when dealing with a
telemarketing call:
        •   Be wary of free prize offers. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is! Declining the offer
            and ending the call is your best defense.
        •   Check your charities. You should never make a monetary donation over the telephone. Instead, if a
            charitable organization contacts you over the telephone for a donation, ask that they send you literature in
            the mail instead. Nearly all organizations would be happy to accept a check in the mail. That way, you can
            determine that you are sending money to the correct charity, rather than giving your credit card
            information to a potential thief over the phone.
        •   Investigate investments. Never discuss investment opportunities with a solicitor. You should only
            conduct this type of business with a company that you have selected based upon doing your homework.
            Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. When in doubt,
            just hang up!
        •   Unsubscribe. To eliminate telemarketing calls altogether, consumers have the option to sign up with the
            National Do Not Call Registry. To do so, consumers can visit www.donotcall.gov.


    Phishing and Vishing Scams
    Phishing occurs when scam artists send emails that appear to be from a bank or e-commerce organization.
Typically the message warns the consumer that their account has been compromised, and that immediate action and
response is necessary to fix the problem. Consumers are advised to click on links within the email to start the process.
Vishing occurs in the same manner, however the recipient is directed to call a number to correct the problem, and is
then prompted to give their account information over the phone. Avoid these types of scams by:
        •   Stay away from links. Never click on a link that is included in a suspicious email. Not only does it
            legitimize your email address, it can direct you to a fraudulent site that can capture your account
            information. Never follow prompts to enter your personal information online. Again, if you’re concerned
            about fraudulent account activity, check your account statements and notify your bank.
        •   Exercise caution. Suspicious emails are just that – suspicious. Be extra cautious if you see an email from
            your bank that’s asking for your account information. Since your bank already has your account numbers
            on file, they will never ask for it in an email. Simply delete the email and move on. If you are concerned
            about your account, be sure to call your bank, using the telephone number that’s printed on your bank
            statement, not the number that’s in the email.
        •   Report spam. Want to stop the spam from hitting your inbox? According to the Anti-Phishing Working
            Group, you can report phishing or spoofed emails to the Federal Trade Commission the Internet Crime
            Complaint Center and to the company that is being spoofed. For more information, visit www.anti-
            phishing.org.
    ATM Scams
    It may sound more like a new dance move, but the Lebanese Loop is actually an ATM scam. Scam artists will
insert a plastic sleeve into the ATM and then wait for bank visitors to insert their card to access their account. When
someone inserts their card into the machine and enters their PIN, the machine is unable to read the card and recognize
the number. The person then assumes that the machine ate their card and walks away. The scam artist is then able to
retrieve the plastic sleeve out of the ATM along with the person’s card.
            •   Be aware of your surroundings. Before approaching an ATM machine, take a quick scan to see if
                there are any suspicious persons nearby. Always make sure you are using an ATM that’s in a well-lit
                area, and, if it can be avoided, never use an ATM after dark. Trust your instincts. If the area does not
                feel safe, try to locate another ATM.
            •    Check the ATM. Before inserting your card into the ATM, check the machine to see if anything looks
                 out of place or broken. If you feel the machine has been tampered with, use another ATM or go inside
                 the bank to withdrawal your funds
            •    Act quickly. If your card gets stuck inside the machine, immediately notify the bank or your credit
                 card company and have them cancel the card. If it’s during business hours, ask if a bank representative
                 can access the machine to retrieve your card.
    Credit card scams can quickly devastate a person’s credit profile, and is a leading cause of identity theft. It’s
extremely important for consumers to be aware of these types of scams and know how to avoid them. For additional
assistance on identifying scams, and tips for avoiding them, consumers can visit with a ClearPoint Financial Specialist.
ClearPoint can assist consumers with ways to protect their credit as well as provide educational materials on
responsible money management, including debt reduction and building a savings. For more information, please visit
www.clearpointfinancialsolutions.org.




About ClearPoint Financial Solutions, Inc.
ClearPoint Financial Solutions, Inc.™ (formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Services of America, Inc.) is a national non-profit
organization dedicated to helping consumers achieve financial wellness through counseling and education. Established in 1980,
ClearPoint has helped over one million individuals achieve financial security. ClearPoint is the only non-profit System-wide
member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and one of the largest members of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling
(NFCC). Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, ClearPoint manages branches across the country. Personalized and confidential
consultations are available in person, by phone or online. Visit ClearPoint Financial Solutions at
www.ClearPointFinancialSolutions.org or call 877-422-9044. Credit Counselors, CDC Consumer Debt Counseling, and
Solutions, Inc. are all trade names of ClearPoint.

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