It’s closing in on Halloween, so we’re going to get financially spooky.
Okay, we admit it’s a little cheesy, but LA Times consumer finance columnist David Lazarus joined Marketplace Weekend to give his tips on scams and other financial scares:
1. Lawyer up
Listener Nancy wrote in to tell us about how her husband, a chef, was on the hook for a loan when his restaurant closed. “If you are indeed the talent, you want to protect yourself because the thing is going to sink or swim on you. And if it sinks, you want to protect yourself and if it swims, you want to be riding that wave,” says Lazarus. “So the idea that you’re going to enter into any kind of relationship like that without a good firm legal underpinning is, to me, a big red flag.”
2. Protect your information
Listener Drew had a near-scare when a man she met online was instead a potential scammer. “Thanks to the social media and the dating site aspect of this we’re seeing social engineering involved in this. And what that means is asking a lot of questions, finessing the victim so that he or she is going to give enough personal information that at the other end, they’re able to start putting together a pretty thorough file on you and suddenly they can do a pretty impressive job of identity theft.”
3. Be skeptical
“There’s always some kind of scam that comes along that presses people’s buttons. I mean just the other day we saw the warning that there are scammers out there trying to raise funds to fight Ebola. And every time you see a thing like this, whether it was 9/11, whether it was this or that disaster, the scammers step up with these sorts of solicitations and they pull on your heartstring. They know this. And that’s why you always, always want to do your due diligence. You want to check out any charity that’s contacted you, you want to check out any non-profit that has reached out to you. You want to know that who you’re dealing with is who they say they are.”
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