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This is My Confession: I Got Scammed

by Shawanda Greene

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This morning, I was all fired up to come home and blog about my 2010 Roth IRA contributions as well as the logic behind investing in Charles Schwab ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds). That burning desire has since simmered. There’s a more pressing matter I have to get off my chest. You see, I’ve been scammed.

I should’ve known this day would come. When you love free stuff as much as I do, you’re prime picking for scammers.

I know the basics.

  • Fight tooth and nail for the chastity and sanctity of your Social Security number.
  • Never give out credit card information to a business you don’t trust.
  • Shred documents that contain sensitive personal information.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know all that.

All this time, I’ve been thinking if I don’t give out my credit card information, the scammers can’t hurt me. Well, today the scammers proved otherwise.

I don’t completely remember the exact moment at which the scam was executed, but I know it happened when I was applying for free swag. It was one of them deals where you fill out your contact info and they ask for your cell phone number. They send you a pin number via text message. You enter it on their web site. Bam!!! You’ve signed up for a $9.99 per month subscription to Predicto’s News Prediction Game.

Although I made a financial boo boo, the mess was fairly easy to clean up.

First off, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the mishap if I hadn’t received a text message from Mint. In addition to Microsoft Excel, I use Mint to prepare a monthly budget. Although Excel is okay for outlining a spending plan at the beginning of the month, it’s not so good when it comes to tracking compliance. This month when a $108 AT&T automated payment hit my account, Mint sent me a text message saying, “WTF? I thought yo mobile phone bill was ‘pose to be $100. Something ain’t right. You need to look into dis.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing.

On a month to month basis, my cell phone bill usually hovers around $99 – $100. On occasion, it’ll go up to $102. At $108, something is amiss.

After carefully reviewing my bill, I uncovered the subscription service I inadvertently signed up for. For a moment, I entertained the thought of just paying the charge without a fuss. That was only a moment. We’re talking 10 bucks here.

Long story less long, the AT&T representative I called agreed to give me a refund for the scam subscription service with the warning that I’d be the one to foot the bill next time I did something so stupid. Again, I’m paraphrasing.

I share this story with you in hopes of accomplishing at least one of three objectives:

  1. You’ll learn how blind pursuit of free stuff can cost you money,
  2. You’ll set up alerts on your bank and credit card accounts to notify you of weird activity, or
  3. You’ll feel hopelessly compelled to share a time when you too were tricked by a tricky trickster into parting with your cash.

Well, do you?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

ModernHippie January 13, 2010 at 11:12 PM

Those dang text message scams!! When Steve got an iPhone a few months ago, I too noticed some "suspicious" charges and yes, after investigation they turned out to be some scam deal he "accidentally" signed up for (that's his story and he's sticking to it). Just goes to show you that you can't always take a companys' word for it when they send you a bill, you have to be proactive!

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Carla January 13, 2010 at 11:37 PM

I was almost scammed by what I THOUGHT was the Secretary of State of the State of California regarding my LLC (Limited Liability Company). I got what looked like an official threatening letter demanding me to send them $239.00…or else (fines, lose my license, etc).

After looking at it more and asking questions, I found it out it was a scam that's been sent to thousands of California LLC businesses. It LOOKS very official at first, second, third glance, but after reading between the lines and researching, I found out that its a huge scam.

Anyway, just another reminder to be very careful out there! If its too good, or in my case, too bad to be true, look into it some more.

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Shawanda January 20, 2010 at 2:13 AM

That's a different angle. Instead of scamming people into paying you money by appealing to their greed, appeal to their fears. Clever.

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ModernHippie January 16, 2010 at 12:00 AM

And thanks for turning me on to Mint.com, the site and service is awesome!! I am on my way to being more proactive with budgeting! Yay me!

Reply

Shawanda January 20, 2010 at 2:10 AM

You're welcome. If you're up for it and you have an iPhone, you should download the Mint app. I might be a little obsessed, but I like being able to know my net worth at a moment's notice.

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