Nov 17, 2008

Nov 7, 2008

12 News Milwaukee Investigates: What Do You Know About Workers You Let Inside Your Home

12 News Investigates

TV 26 Green Bay Looks At Fast Food Nutrition With Dietitians

TV 26 Green Bay: Secret Shopper Scam

Bank Fees Continue To Soar

Drop In Consumer Spending Tied To Drop In Housing Values

"You'll Save Gas And Avoid Crowds By Shopping Online, And You Needn't Be Nervous About The Outcome"

Consumer Reports:

1 In 5 Mortgages Higher Than Home's Value

Suggestions On Fighting Fake Check Scams

In recent weeks, consumer protection has warned consumers about the Publishers Clearinghouse scams which involve fake checks. MSNBC Consumer Reporter Herb Weisbaum recently wrote about this scam and had some interesting observations about MoneyGrams and banks:

There are plenty of warning signs this prize notice is a scam. The most obvious one: You are required to send money. No legitimate contest ever requires you to buy something or pay any money.

Then there’s the check that comes with the award notice letter. It always has the name of some unrelated company on it – such as a funeral home in North Dakota or a collision shop in California – not Publishers Clearinghouse. Why? The bad guys steal the names and account numbers of real companies to put on their fake checks so they won’t bounce as soon as you deposit them.

And then there’s the strange instruction you get about wiring the money. You’re told not to mention that you’ve won the contest. You’re supposed to say you’re sending money to a friend or relative. That should make warning sirens go off.

Willard Hart, director of fraud at MoneyGram International says this is done to fake out their agents who will question the transaction if you say you’ve won a contest or lottery. “What the bad guys are trying to do is give their victims a set answer to keep the transaction going,” he explains.

Trying to attack the problem

Consumer groups, businesses and government regulators have formed a task force on fake checks. Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America chairs this task force.

I asked her if she believes the banking industry should do more to protect their customers from these fake check scams. Her response: “Banks clearly need to do more.”

Grant has high praise for West Suburban Bank in the Chicago area. It reduced this check fraud by 85 percent in one year by instituting a simple policy. Every customer who deposits a check for $1,000 or more or withdraws $1,000 or more gets a flyer about fake check scams. “It’s simple and effective,” Grant says.
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