Consumer alert on latest scams

Tulsa - A beautiful Spring day can put you in the mood to do some traveling or lounging outside at home.

An escape is what most people would like from worrying about the current tough economic times.

Scammers know how to use your fantasies, fears and financial concerns to take your money. President and CEO of the Tulsa Area Better Business Bureau , Rick Brinkley, says "You better have your guard up."

Brinkley and his staff at the Better Business Bureau regularly hear complaints about scam number one "Be very careful of anyone who just calls you unsolicited and offers you any kind of travel." Brinkley says doing your own research and making your own travel plans will always get you the best deals.

Scam number two according to Brinkley "Before you buy an item thinking you can get a tax rebate or a tax credit on it you need to do your own homework, first."

Rising temperatures and big rebate offers tempt many to invest in new a/c and heating units or other home improvements.

Click here to check the correct Web site before you buy to be certain your investment qualifies for money back. It's www.energysavers.gov Brinkley explains it can be an expensive mistake to go strictly on what a salesperson tells you "The people were promised all kinds of things that the company knew darn good and well was not going to qualify for a tax credit."

Scam number three focuses on fears surrounding passage of the Healthcare Reform Bill.

Cindy Loftin is a SHIP Coordinator which stands for Senior Health Insurance Counseling Program for the Oklahoma Insurance Department and says "The first thing you want to do is be alert to pressure to do something right now."

Loftin explains further "All of the biggest elements of the healthcare reform legislation won't even go into effect for four more years."

The hallmark of this scam is found in most shady schemes. Someone trying to get you to act and give out private financial information before you think. Loftin says remember "There are people and resources here to help you and be sure you don't make the wrong decision."

You can reach Loftin and her team at LIFE Senior Services in Tulsa if you're approached with a concerning healthcare offer. Just call 664-9000 in the Tulsa area to get the right information. There's also this toll free number: (866) 664-9009

Scam number four: Promises of free grants for the unemployed.
Brinkley says "The fact is, anyone who runs one of these scams understands that people who have been out of work for extended periods of time are desperate."

He says the come-ons are most often found on websites. "Really when you're looking for any kind of help, Craigslist is not the place I'm going to use as a reliable source to turn over credit card information in an e-mail or especially Social Security information."

You can always turn to www.BBB.org for reliable information. It's also the best place to start to avoid scam number five: Taking the plunge to buy a new pool or hot tub only to find yourself left financially high and dry. Brinkley says "Know who you're doing business with. A swimming pool is a high dollar ticket item and you don't want to be left holding the bag on $25,000 because you gave money to someone who skipped town and you could have done your homework and saved yourself the money before it all even started."

Doing a little homework up front can spell smooth spring sailing for your pocketbook.

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