Consumer Tips

Tips to avoiding consumer fraud

What Fraud Is

Con artists are sharp, believable, and creative - and they want your money - usually right now. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

General Information

  • Work from home schemes are almost always scams.
  • Avoid “pay today” pressure tactics.
  • Get specifics.
  • Call the hotel to confirm payment if accommodations are included.
  • Ask about the refund policy before you buy.
  • Read a contract before signing, and in doubt, have someone you trust review it.

Buying A Used Car

  • There is no three day cancellation or a lemon law in Florida.
  • Comparison shop for price, condition, warranty, and mileage.
  • Don’t buy without an independent mechanic inspection.
  • Document dealer promises on the contract.
  • Copy the contract and keep in safe place.

Getting Your Car Repaired

  • Get a written estimate that spells out what you want done.
  • Let the mechanic decide what needs fixing, not you.
  • Get a second opinion for major repairs.
  • Make sure the final bill includes any warranties.
  • Go with your car to the shop when possible.

Hiring a Contractor

  • Avoid door to door solicitors.
  • Insist on references, a proper license, bonding, and insurance.
  • Check out credentials.
  • Make sure the contract can be broken if you don’t receive financing.
  • Hire a contractor with a real office, not just a post office box address.

Prizes & Sweepstakes

  • Don’t give out your credit card number to claim a prize.
  • Don't pay for a "free prize".

Investments & Business Opportunities

  • Investigate and verify all information.
  • Do not assume that official looking documents are either accurate or complete.
  • Beware of investment opportunities where your profit is "guaranteed".
  • Avoid investing in businesses you know nothing about.
  • Ignore testimonials or references that can be hired.
  • Review an investment opportunity with your accountant or financial advisor.
  • Check out the reputation of the company.
  • Research before you invest.

Telephone Solicitations

  • Ask a telemarketer to send you the offer or give you their telephone number.
  • Check to see that the telephone number is legitimate.
  • Never give a telemarketer your credit card number unless you trust them.

Fraudulent Health Claims

  • Avoid quick or painless cures, they are generally fraudulent.
  • Insist on scientific evidence rather than just testimonials or case histories.
  • There are no secret cures.

Warranties & Guarantees

  • Read your warranty.
  • Keep all sales receipts and warranties in a safe place.

Credit Card Fraud

  • Keep an eye on your card during the entire transaction.
  • Don't sign a blank receipt.
  • Draw a line through any blank spaces.
  • Don't give your card number over the phone unless you know the company.
  • Immediately question in writing any suspicious charges on your bill.

Beware These Key Words

  • Cash Only
  • Secret Plans
  • Something For Nothing
  • Haste
  • Today Only
  • Last Chance

Web Safety

  • Keep private information private.
  • Get to know online merchants.
  • Question out-of-this-world claims.
  • Make sure your transaction is secure.
  • Watch out for .exe files that can ruin your hard drive or collect information.
  • Block inappropriate sites