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Fraud Prevention Information

It's not always easy to spot con artists. They're smart, extremely believable, and aggressive. They invade your home by telephone and email, advertise in well-known newspapers and magazines, through your mail box or at your door.

 Prevention:

  • Ask Questions  
  • Listen Carefully
  • Refuse to be pressured 
  • Ask for things in writing
    • Full description
    • Total cost
    • Name/Address/Telephone Number
    • A hand shake is not good enough
  • Read and understand any contract before you sign it
  • Check references and ask for names of past customers
  • Always get a written receipt when buying something
  • Keep good records

 

Warning signs:

  • Demands immediate action ("Today Only" or "Last Chance")
  • Offers to send someone to your home to pick up payment or for you to send it overnight mail
  • Unwilling to provide written information
  • Tells you the deal is a secret
  • If something sounds to good to be true, it probably isn't true

     


Safety Tips:

  • When in doubt about a product or business, contact the Better Business Bureau
  • Never do business with a person who approaches you on the street
  • Never give cash for a check
  • Be very cautious of cash-only deals
  • Never give someone a blank check or let them help you fill it out. 
  • If you rent an apartment and pay in cash always get a receipt immediately
  • Do not enter contests, accept free gifts or prizes unless you clearly understand your obligation
  • Make sure your mail box is secure and promptly remove mail

     


Home Improvement:

  • Be suspicious of anyone going door to door to solicit work
  • Do not pay for work up front   (GS 14-104)  
  • Do not allow yourself to be told that repairs are necessary immediately
  • Do not rely on the word of some one you do not know
  • Never allow someone you do not know to enter in your home
  • Ask for references
  • Ask to see contractor's insurance information.  Contractors should carry workers' compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance.  Also check expiration dates to insure coverage does not expire prior to the project completion date.
  • Get a written contract.  Be sure to read it before signing it.
    • A full description of work to be performed  
    • Total Cost of the job  
    • A firm completion date  
    • The contractor's license number
    • All warranty information
    • Address and phone number of the contractor  
  • Beware of anyone that tells you the deal is a secret and that you must not tell anyone
  • Do not allow your decision to be influenced by greed
  • If something sounds to good to be true, it probably isn't true

     


Be a Wise Consumer:

  • Don't buy health products or treatments that include: a promise for a quick and dramatic cure, testimonials, appeals to emotion instead of reason, or a single product that cures many ills.  Medical "cures" can be dangerous to your health.  A health care practitioner should be consulted before taking any of these products.  

  • Look closely at offers that come in the mail.  Con artists often use official-looking forms with bold graphics that look like invoices to lure victims. These include "free vacations," phony inheritance schemes, fees charged for normally free services, credit card repair, phony job opportunities, and unsolicited merchandise.  If you receive items in the mail that you did not order you are under no obligation to pay for them.

  • Be suspicious of ads that promise quick cash working from your home.  After you've paid for the supplies or a how-to book to get started, you often find there's no market for the product and there's no way to get your money back.

  • Listen carefully to the name of a charity requesting money.  Fraudulent charities often use names that sound like a reputable, well-known organization such as the American Cancer Association (instead of the American Cancer Society).  Ask for a financial report before you donate; a reputable charity will always send you one.

  • Investigate before you invest.  Never make an investment with a stranger over the phone.  Beware of promises that include the terms "get rich quick", or "a once in a lifetime opportunity."

  • Use common sense in dealing with auto repairs.  Get a written estimate, read it carefully, and never give a repair shop permission to "fix everything."

  • Never get involved with chain letters (pyramid schemes) and foreign lotteries.  The only persons who benefit are the promoters of the scheme.  Chain letters and participation in foreign lotteries are prohibited by U.S. federal law.

 

 

If you are a victim:

 

Call 911, if  the crime occurred in Mecklenburg County and give as much information as you can about the person(s) involved.  Also provide a copy of your records (receipts/contracts/advertisement).

If the suspect is located in another jurisdiction, the report has to be made in that jurisdiction.

To report an internet crime file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov

Fraud Prevention Resources:

If you have any questions concerning crime prevention topics please contact your crimepreventionunit@cmpd.org.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
601 East Trade Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202