As the country celebrates the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans during Hispanic Heritage Month, Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest has received reports that some minority groups are often the target of specific schemes.
According to a study done by the Federal Trade Commission, African American and Latino communities “under-report” scams, despite being more vulnerable to them. Victims often don’t know where to report these fraudulent practices. The study found that cons targeted at minority communities prey on the need for financial stability through debt-related frauds. Some scams often use Spanish language marketing to purposely target Latino communities.
Some schemes to look out for include:
- Employment tricks. Look out for too-good-to-be-true offers. Often con artists will hire someone for a job and then overpay them. They tell the “employee” to deposit the check and send them back the difference. Soon, the check bounces and the employee is left footing the bill. Additionally, work from home scams often ask consumers to pay for starter kits or certifications that are useless. Sometimes they charge consumers’ credit cards without permission.
- Emergency Call Scams. Also known as the “Grandparent Scam,” the victim receives a call or online message from a “friend” or “family member” claiming to be stuck in an emergency, car accident or under arrest. The victim wires the money, discovering later it was a scam artist impersonating a friend or relative.
- Payday loans. Some payday loans may work out for the borrower, but more often than not it doesn’t end well. Percentage rates for these types of loans are often very high, making it difficult to pay off. Better alternatives include getting an advance from your employer, using a credit union or borrowing from family.
- Immigration Assistance. Unlicensed immigration “consultants” prey on immigrants by claiming to be able to speed up the citizenship process or helping them acquire a work visa. Immigrants should use caution when searching for legal assistance. To check if a person is authorized and licensed to practice law, check with the licensing authority in your state.
The FTC has scheduled a workshop for Dec. 6 in Washington D.C. to bring together organizations that serve these groups, as well as state and federal law enforcers to study how the changing demographics of the U.S. will affect fraud prevention work in the future. More information can be found at www.ftc.gov.