The MyChargeBack Blog

The Rise of Gift Card Scams

Throughout human history, one of life’s greatest riddles has been, “What do you get the person who has everything?” Well, a couple of decades ago, some enterprising retailers finally solved the riddle. With a gift card, redeemable for goods and services at your favourite establishment, you can pick your own gift and thank the giver later. Perfect, right?

Almost.

As with every other new invention, it seems like shady individuals have just been waiting and pondering how to take advantage of it unscrupulously. Welcome to the brave new world of gift card scams.

Some features of gift cards make them irresistible to fraudsters. Unlike credit cards, they are anonymous. On the other hand they, or the networks their information are saved on, store real monetary value. And also unlike credit cards, the data security on gift cards is often a bit more lax.

So what are the scammers up to?

Some of these people simply walk up to a gift card display case at the local store, take a few cards to where they can discreetly copy the information on them (card number and security code), then quietly return them to the rack. They are able to use specialized software to determine when the card has been legitimately purchased and activated, at which point the criminal is able to use his stolen information to spend all the money on it.

Another scam that takes advantage of the relatively low levels of security protecting the data on gift cards is the automated bot attack. This is a “brute force” type of attack by which a computer logs into a card vendor’s online system and automatically tries numerous random card numbers and security codes in hopes of finding a winning combination. According to some estimates, upwards of 90% of logins to these websites are bot attacks.

For the less technically-inclined criminal, a more traditional con has been updated to take advantage of the anonymity of the stored value in the gift card. An innocent person gets a threatening call from someone purporting to be from the IRS, police, or some other frightening government agency. The “mark” will be told that hey have an outstanding debt that will lead to very serious consequences if it isn’t fixed immediately. Then the scammer gives the victim a quick and easy solution: they can make the problem go away if the victim goes to the store and buys enough gift cards to cover the “debt”. The unfortunate prey then gives the trickster the card numbers and security codes over the phone, and the scam is complete.

So what can you do to avoid becoming a victim? First of all, always make sure you buy your gift cards from authorized reputable dealers. If possible, it should be a card that was kept out of the hands of others (e.g., not hanging on a checkout rack). If not, at least make sure there are no signs of tampering on the packaging. And finally, remember that nobody will ever demand to be paid in gift cards for any valid legal debt. If anyone does, hang up and report them to the authorities.

Happy shopping!

Do You Regret Your Transplant Tourism?

Organ transplantation is the most complex and challenging of all surgical procedures, and is successful in saving thousands of lives around the world every year. The most commonly transplanted organ is the kidney, due to the possibility of using live donors, but livers, hearts and many other organs have successfully been transplanted, adding decades of life to otherwise terminally ill patients.

Before the biology behind organ rejection was understood and anti-rejection medicines developed, the possibility of widespread transplantation was widely believed to be unrealistic. But since the first unqualified successes in the 1950s, it has become a standard and widespread practice: one of the great miracles of modern medicine.

The great unsolved problem that still has no clear solution is the tremendous disparity between need and supply. Put simply, there are not nearly enough donors or available organs for the millions of people who urgently need them to survive.

In addition, virtually all countries and many intergovernmental organizations have banned the buying and selling of human organs, an activity widely perceived to be unethical and ripe for exploitation.

This situation has led to a number of diabolical solutions by bad actors. In certain countries with insufficient government oversight (or even unofficial government collusion), organ transplants take place in which foreigners are brought in to receive the organs from highly questionable sources. The recipient pays huge sums of money to the broker and the medical team that performs the operation. The “package” often includes airport pickup and dropoff, hotel and, occasionally, other benefits.

There are often two victims in such an arrangement. Organ recipients are desperate people with a life-threatening illness, typically with just months left unless they receive a transplant. They will often do anything, pay any price, even break any law in order to live. And the organ trafficker knows exactly how to take advantage of them.

The other victim is the donor. That unfortunate soul is typically an impoverished resident of a Third World country. The donor is recruited with an offer of enough money to get out of poverty in exchange for their “extra” kidney. In other cases, particularly in China, organs are harvested from executed prisoners, some of whom are no more than political or religious dissidents. This ghoulish scenario, in which teams of doctors stand by while a person is being killed in order to excise living organs for profit, is, of course, widely condemned.

In such a situation, an unscrupulous broker stands between two desperate people, and he can easily abuse them. Donors often gets far less than what they were promised, and the substandard conditions and lack of after-care often leave them permanently disabled and financially worse off than before, assuming they even survive.

But the recipient is often not any better off either. The operating conditions at black market transplant centers rarely meet international standards of safety, hygiene or skill. And the screening of donor organs for compatibility and disease is often less than thorough, sometimes leaving the patient with a rejected organ, or even infected by AIDS, hepatitis, or another serious disease. Add to that the stress of international travel while critically ill, and as you can imagine, the survival and recovery rates for transplant tourism are well below the norm for standard care practices.

Have you or a loved one been the victim of unethical transplant brokers? Aside from the ongoing health problems that it caused, don’t you at least deserve your money back? Unfortunately, the process of opening and winning a chargeback dispute in cases like this is weighed down with an unbelievable amount bureaucratic red tape. Fortunately, you have someone to help you.

We at MyChargeBack have the experience and expertise to guide a dispute to maximize the chances of success. And we have the tenacity to never get discouraged or give up on our clients. We guarantee 100% effort to get you your money back. We’re an international fund recovery service headquartered in New York that has retrieved millions of dollars for scam victims the world over.

If you believe you have been the victim of a scam related to transplant tourism, contact MyChargeBack today to receive a free consultation.

Scam Forecast for 2019

Scamming will not come to an end on New Year’s Day. Although many such frauds, such as the infamous binary options scams, are being tightly watched, variations, will continue and be joined by brand new ones. As scammers are now more sophisticated more cunning and more technologically advanced, the public needs to be increasingly alert and attentive.

Let’s consider some scamming trends that we should be on the lookout for in 2019.

From Binary Options Scams to Cryptocurrency Scams

Binary options are notoriously problematic financial trading instruments. Many traders are drawn to binary options because of its simplicity, but as they are highly speculative, many regulated exchanges are careful to keep their distance. Thus, most binary options trading is conducted on unregulated trading platforms. And this resulted in an online explosion of fake brokerages.

As the appeal of binary options dwindles and as the ban (imposed by pan European financial regulator ESMA) on providing binary options trading products in the EU continues through to January 1, 2019, another financial fad has gained momentum; cryptocurrencies. Since cryptocurrencies remain decentralized, creating regulations for this industry has become a pressing issue for authorities around the globe. Many crypto traders complain of price manipulations and funds stuck on exchanges. Threads on the internet are filled with new grievances on a daily basis.

Given this, regulatory rules on the cryptocurrency have become essential. But an absolute ban would have a negative impact on the economy because of the participation of institutions and retail investors.

Co-founder of ThatSucks.com, Martin Kay, reported: “Bitcoin is a dream come true for ex-binary options scammers; not only they continue to make hollow promises of getting rich quickly, now they take your money and process it through crypto wallets which could never re-trace.”

Real Estate Scams are on the Rise

Meanwhile, according to the FBI and other law enforcement authorities, real estate scams are becoming more prevalent. Cybercrimes have become so widespread that the FBI has established an Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Its website states that “from calendar year 2015 to calendar year 2017, there was over an 1,100% rise in the number of BEC/EAC [business email compromise/ email account compromise] victims reporting the real estate transaction angle and an almost 2,200% rise in the reported monetary loss.” According to the IC3, in 2017, there were as many as 9,645 victims of real estate fraud.

Generally speaking, a scammer will hack into the email account of a real estate patron and observe it. When the scammer identifies email correspondence between the real estate agent and the buyer, they send the buyer a fake email that appears to have been sent by the real estate agent. That email requests that money for the real estate purchase is wired to a different account (belonging to the scammer). At times, scammers are also able to hack into the email account of a real estate professional, if security measures are lacking.

Dale Dabbas, CEO and president of EZShield, a firm that deals with identity protection stated: “These transactions involve a lot of money and a lot of personally identifiable information exchanged…And that’s worth a lot of money to a scammer.”

Time Share Scams Continue and Advent of the Sanctuary Belize Scam

Consumers continue to report receiving offers to buy into various vacation accommodation opportunities, including discount holiday clubs, timeshare and holiday ownership deals. Britain’s highly regarded Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), among other organizations, warns consumers about attending presentations where they may be pressured into purchasing such deals. Also, consumers should know that timeshare offers involve continuous ongoing payments that can increase over time.

One particular real-estate scam that has made headlines is the “Sanctuary Belize” scam. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shutdown this scam, noting that it robbed consumers of more than $100 million. “Sanctuary Belize” enticed Americans with the assurance of retirement in a Caribbean paradise. The reality was a sham luxury development.

Many small-business owners, close to retirement age, invested their retirement savings in this scam. They were convinced to buy plots of land that cost between $100,000 to $500,000. Promotional offers assured a “no-debt” business plan, prompt construction and a good financial return. Over 1,000 lots were sold, however, only 10 percent have finished homes and amenities. The promised hospital, airport and golf course will never be built. Many buyers lost all their investment or were required to sell their properties back to the scammers and forfeit their money.

Fake Securities Regulators

At MyChargeBack, it’s not uncommon for clients to tell us that they were sure the binary options, forex or CFD site they signed up for was legitimate because it was a member in good standing of some sort of professional oversight association, or even was licensed by a government regulator, even though it turned out to have been a scam.

When that happens, one of the most important tools of our trade is to refer to the checklist published by the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). For those who are still uninitiated in the scamming world, IOSCO compiles an authoritative ledger of companies claiming to be investment firms that have been the subject of warnings issued by the world’s national financial regulators.

But let’s just say that a novice online investor stumbles onto a broker who claims he is a member of the Hong Kong Financial Services Authority. Sounds pretty official, right? Someone you can certainly trust.

Or what if there is a nice logo appearing at the bottom of the home page in the shape of an official looking emblem that says the brokerage is a member of the “International Exchange Regulatory Commission.” Safe as the bank, right?

And how does the “Securities Regulatory Commission” sound? Are we getting any safer?

Or this one, which certainly has to take first place in any contest for maximizing official-sounding pomposity: “A member of the Worldwide Securities Investment Commission.”

To someone who is new to all this, all of these forums sound professional and legitimate. Except, in reality, they’re not. As a matter of fact, they don’t even exist. They are as fake as the investment scams that claim membership in them. And they are all listed on a list of about 80 phony securities regulators that appear on the website of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the government financial regulator Down Under.

The people who come up with these deceptive-sounding names know what they’re doing. They choose a combination of words that reminds you of real institutions. One scam site, for example, claimed to be regulated by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, which really is an American government regulator. But the link to the website they provided was www.cftc.org.au, which doesn’t exist. No American government agency based in Washington, D.C., of course, is going to have a URL that uses an Australian domain. But the scammers assume you’re not going to catch that, especially if you’re in Australia. (The website of the real Commodities Futures Trading Commission, by the way, is www.cftc.gov.)

Scammers are criminals. They’re unethical. They’re liars. Their entire business model is built on deception. And they’re good at what they do. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, therefore, that they will have spent significant time and energy on covering their bases. Fake securities regulators are only a part of it. You’ll also find fake review sites (“prepared by experts,” one of them touts), fake customer satisfaction scores, and fake testimonials (featuring stock photos of fake investors). Even fake licenses from real regulators, and, most of all, real licenses from impotent regulators in small, underpopulated island countries you’d probably not be able to find on a map.

Don’t take chances when it comes to your money. Scammers will stop at nothing.

“You Have Won a Vacation” Scams: What They Involve and How to Spot Them

You are at a coffee shop, waiting for your caffè latte, when you impulsively decide to fill in a form promoting a free vacation. Or you are relaxing in front of the TV when you receive a telephone call saying you’ve been selected to receive a travel vacation free of charge? Unfortunately, these scenarios are very common. And the harsh truth is that everyone who fills in a form and everyone who receives a phone call is told they have been “selected.” You may believe you have “won” a free holiday, but the reality is that the trip promoted will probably end up costing you a lot of money.

This telemarketing scam has existed for a long time, and it seems to be very successful. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, millions of dollars are made on telemarketing schemes such as this every month, leaving unwitting consumers well out of pocket.

These types of scams are generally conceived of in “boiler rooms.” A boiler room is a euphemism used to describe any place where highly skilled salespeople call lists of possible buyers in the hope of selling them fraudulent products, services or securities. These lists are often referred to as “sucker lists” for obvious reasons. These salespeople deliver sales pitches about travel deals that appear to be genuine, but more often than not are scams.

So what should you look out for when you receive a call from someone selling you a “free” holiday? Here are some tips:

  • The salesperson may request your credit card details. The second you hear the words credit card number, you should become suspicious and may want to end the telephone conversation then and there.
  • If you do unknowingly go ahead and give your credit card details, you may be sent a set a list of steps you need to complete to confirm your reservation. It may cost you even more money to make and finalize your reservation. By now you should be feeling worried. Your “free” vacation is already costing you a small fortune. Moreover, the conditions placed on the vacation could be so restrictive that you can never actually take the trip. Or, the reservation may not even be approved.
  • Another trick scammers use is to present you with rather convincing deals. They will often try to sell club memberships or discounted vacations, rather than trying to scam you out of all your money. Because they sound believable such fraudulent deals can be difficult to spot. Keep your eyes open for restrictions, hidden fees and fees to upgrade.
  • Be wary of any travel offers that do not openly disclose information about the company offering them, such as its name and location. It is also a must to receive everything in writing before you pay anything. Before you commit to anything read the cancellation policies carefully and review all terms and conditions.
  • These expert salespeople also use high-pressure tactics and tend to say something along the lines of “If you don’t accept our offer immediately it will expire” or “Don’t miss this one-time opportunity.” Also, they generally dismiss or overlook any concern you may have.

If you believe you’ve been the victim of a telemarketing travel scam, contact MyChargeBack for a free consultation. We’ll let you know if we can help you recover your money.

Scamming the Elderly

How we treat the elders of society is a direct reflection of how attitudes have deteriorated to almost the lowest level.

Deliberately targeting anyone over the age of 70 has got to be the epitome of stripping the dignity from the members of society we treasure the most. Scammers know their age, how much they should have in the bank and use the fact that people who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or hang up the telephone on a stranger.

If that doesn’t bring a cringe to your face, then perhaps a serious introspection is needed.

The Statistics Are Alarming

Some five million older Americans are financially exploited every year by scammers. The elderly suffer at the hands of greedy, desperate or drug-addicted relatives and friends, among others. The total number of victims is increasing as baby boomers retire and their ability to manage trillions of dollars in personal assets diminishes.

Those in the know claim that elder exploitation is not only a community issue. It’s a public health problem. Elder abuse victims—including those who suffer financial exploitation—die at a rate three times faster than those who haven’t been abused.

Take the sad fate of Marjorie Jones.

She was called up one day and told she won the sweepstakes. Well not really, but she didn’t know that. To collect her winnings, she was told, all she had to do was pay some taxes and fees and all that money was hers for good. After wiring the first payment, they phoned again for some money as there were some “new” conditions she had to meet. As the scheme progressed, Jones, who was legally blind and living all alone, depleted her savings, took out a second mortgage and then went and cashed in a life insurance policy just to secure that fortune she had supposedly won.

She didn’t tell her family, not even the sister who lived next door. Scammers often tell victims to keep their promised winnings a secret.

By the time her family had found out about it, after she asked to borrow some money, it was too late. This was a shock to them, for a woman they admired for her financial independence. She had lost all her life savings which amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

About one week after calling her granddaughter at the family business in Ganado, Texas, to borrow $6,000, Jones committed suicide.

What You Can Do to Help

Older citizens are less likely to report a scam because they may not know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed or don’t even know that they have been scammed. There is also a fear that if they pursue their case their relatives may think they no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.

The best thing to do for your elderly relatives is to tell them they are at risk of scams that target them due to their advancing age. If they confide in you that they indeed have been victimized, encourage them to take action. If you don’t, the chances are likelier that they won’t.

MyChargeBack is an international fund recovery service that respects the dignity of all scam victims who reach out to it, especially the elderly and infirm. We understand the vulnerability of older people in our community, and that is why when helping the victims retrieve their lost money, we take our time to guide them through the process and help them assemble all the relevant documents they may need.

Being elderly should be a ticket for honor in today’s ever increasing throwaway society. Treasuring their honor should be our responsibility. After all, if we don’t, what will happen to us when our time comes?

Do You Have To Be Naive To Be Scammed?

It’s a great injustice to presume that people who are scammed by scammers are naive or stupid. At MyChargeBack, we know better. Having spoken with thousands of scam victims the world over, we can tell you that stereotype is simply not true.

Sure, anyone’s immediate gut reaction may provoke the mind to ask “How could they have fallen for that?” A quick Google search probably could have discovered some sort of notice about the scam. Investment scams in particular, especially those involving fake binary options, forex and CFD brokerages, are well documented. Government oversight agencies like the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Australian Securities and Investments  Commission (ASIC), and many others like them issue warnings on an ongoing basis identifying brokerages that operate in their countries without the proper licenses.

Nonetheless, people pour tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars into such dicey websites, so they must be easy to swindle, right?  

Well, no. That’s not necessarily the case.

MyChargeBack has successfully retrieved over $10 million that was stolen from scam victims. The thousands of victims we have assisted include of doctors, lawyers, politicians, accountants, and yes, even bankers and directors of risk management companies! They certainly all can’t be naive or stupid.

But you don’t have to trust us. Take the case of Anthony Enrique Gignac. For 30 years he roamed the world in the guise of the high rolling Saudi Prince Khalid bin al-Saud, befriending billionaires and politicians with generous gifts and charming the jet set. But Gignac was, in reality, a conman and his royal personna was a complete fake. Gignac wasn’t even a Saudi. He was a Colombian, orphaned at an early age. Together with his brother, he was adopted by an American couple when he was seven.  

He was also a genius. At least until he was caught. Until he was, he moved from one exclusive hotel to another, he financed his bon vivant lifestyle using fake credit cards, and even a few real ones. He could have been stopped after he convinced a number of wealthy acquaintances into providing him with money for a supposed investment (money that he later spent on himself), and was subsequently arrested in Florida. But while he was out on bail, he somehow convinced American Express to award him a platinum charge card with a credit line of $200 million, which, of course, he used lavishly.

Gignac skipped bail and resurfaced as as Khalid bin al-Saud, and was now zipping around town in a car with diplomatic license plates he bought on eBay, pretending to enjoy diplomatic immunity. Together with a British asset manager, he spent his time successfully scamming 26 wealthy investors out of $8 million.

Gignac might have gone on scamming everyone in his path indefinitely if not for a silly mistake that led to his downfall. While in the company of a billionaire real estate developer he was eying as a potential victim, the supposed Prince Khalid bin al-Saud he ordered prosciutto in a ritzy restaurant. Prosciutto, of course, is an Italian cured ham, and Muslims are prohibited to eat pork. For a legitimate Saudi prince, of course, this was a faux pas of major proportions. Gignac’s dinner companion had him investigated and, in late 2017, he was ultimately arrested.

He initially pleaded guilty to impersonating a foreign government official, identity theft and fraud, but later withdrew his plea. His trial was expected to open in Miami in January 2019.

Now you might counter by arguing that a scammer who hobnobs with billionaires masquerading as a Saudi prince wearing a black bisht with gold stripes and a ghutrah on his head is different from an anonymous voice on the telephone who’s is talking you into investing your life savings in a phony binary options account. But both use the same tactics. They project self-confidence. They have the gift of gab and know how to talk anyone into anything. They both know how to manipulate a conversation into whatever direction they seek.

So Gignac’s billionaire scam victims were naive and stupid? Hardly. Scam victims are victims. They’re not responsible for the crimes committed against them by professional criminals who are adept at robbing anyone they target out of their money.

Ready for Your Dream Vacation? Dont Let Scammers Spoil It for You!

It’s summer, and you’ve finished packing for that vacation you’ve been looking forward to for months. Everything is in order, and you’re ready to go. You’ve heard the hotel is really nice, and you can’t wait to see your room.

Sounds great. But even while you’re on vacation, the scammers are not. Don’t let them ruin your vacation.

People on vacation want to relax, and some may let down their guard when they’re away from their everyday life and activities. Here are some scams to guard against on your next vacation.

The first one begins almost as soon as you’ve reached the hotel. Once you’ve checked in and gone to your room, you receive a call from someone who claims he works at the front desk. The caller tells you that there is some problem with your credit card and he wants to confirm the number. Sounds plausible, no? But the caller is not actually from the front desk. He’s a scammer, and if you tell him the number, he’ll soon be buying up a storm at your expense.

If you get a call like this, tell the caller you will come down to the front desk to sort things out. Do that even if you get the call in the middle of the night so you will know whether the call was legitimate. It’s worth missing some sleep to make sure you don’t get scammed.

Next there are scams that take place while you are staying at the hotel. Here’s one of them.

You get a flyer in your hotel room advertising pizza or another kind of takeout food, ostensibly from a company in the area. You decide to order, call the number, and give them your credit card or debit card number. They tell you how long it will take, but you wait and wait and wait, and no food arrives. Eventually you get tired of waiting and call them back. They promise that your food is on the way, but again you wait, and again no food arrives. Eventually you order room service instead. But in the meantime, the scammers who have your card number are buying their Christmas presents on your nickel. The easiest way to avoid this scam is to check with the front desk before you call the number in the flyer, or just ask Google whether the business is for real. If you pay for your food in cash when it’s delivered, you can also avoid this problem.

And just when you think that no more scams can happen because your vacation’s nearly over, there’s the checkout scam. In this scam, the hotel asks for payment by credit card when you check out, but you say you prefer to pay in cash. Or you offer to pay by credit card but the hotel tells you that the transaction didn’t go through and instead wants you to pay in cash. If the person behind the front desk is dishonest, he can take your cash but also charge your card, which enables him to keep the cash for himself without anyone noticing. If you find out later but you didn’t retain your receipt, or if the receipt you received did not show the cash payment, then you are out of luck. To avoid this, when you check out, use the same payment method that the hotel kept on file for you when you checked in.

If you believe you’ve been victimized by a scammer, contact MyChargeBack for a free consultation. We’ll tell you if we can help you recover your money.

 

Dont Be Sucked into a Timeshare Scam

Picture a timeshare in the Caribbean. A pristine beach with white sand, sunny skies as far as the eye can see… and hard-sell tactics and bad decisions about how to spend your money.

Timeshares are a way for you to co-own a property that you use for vacations. The idea sounds great. You can only be on vacation part of the year, so why be the sole owner of a property you can’t even use much of the time?

And it might be great. Or it might not be. Timeshare marketers often use high-pressure methods to persuade you to buy. And then, not infrequently, you’ll find out that what you signed up for is not what you thought.

How the Scammers Get You

The typical method of selling timeshares is to invite you to a presentation to listen to the sales pitch. In some cases, you’ll be offered an added bonus. If you attend, you’re told, you’ll receive a prize, such as dinner in a restaurant, a stay in a hotel, or an inexpensive travel package.

The presentation, though, can be more a nightmare than a dream. You’ll be attacked with relentless pressure to buy, and then you’ll find out that to receive the bonus, you’ll have to actually go ahead and make the timeshare purchase. Don’t fall for those arm-twisting tactics.

So what should you do? How can you protect yourself? One way is to arm yourself with information. Here are some things that typically happen at timeshare presentations:

  • You’ll be told that you must buy now to get the deal the company is offering. But in fact, you may be able to get the same deal tomorrow or the day after that.
  • You’ll be told that if you buy now, you’ll receive a discount. But if they first raise the price by 20 percent and then offer you a 20 percent discount, what are you gaining?
  • You’ll be told that it’s a good investment to buy a timeshare. But it’s a lousy investment. The value of most timeshares decreases by 20-30 percent once you buy them, partly because the company selling them has enormous marketing costs — even up to 50 percent of the price you pay.
  • You’ll be told that you can always sell or rent out your timeshare. But in fact, timeshares are hard to resell and hard to rent. You will likely lose money, perhaps a lot of money.

Here are some more tips to avoid becoming the next victim of a timeshare scam:

  • Don’t let your enthusiasm and vacation fantasies take over your emotions. Remain rational and a bit skeptical and take however long you need to come to the decision that is right for you, not for the guy with the hard-sell tactics.
  • Research the company and find out what others say. Is it a scam, or is it for real? Find out where the company is located and then seek information about it from consumer protection agencies.
  • Look carefully at any contract you are offered, and never sign a contract until you’ve consulted with a lawyer.
  • Don’t give in to pressure. If you are told that in order to receive a certain benefit you must sign up immediately, remind yourself that decisions made under pressure often do not turn out well. If the offer is legit, why is it so urgent?

Can a timeshare be a good purchase? Yes, in some cases, but only if you know exactly what you’re getting and what you’re not getting and have made a rational and informed decision to go ahead with the purchase.

A Scam by Any Other Name Is Still a Scam

You just bought a name-brand washing machine. Spent a bit more for it rather than settling for a cheapo manufactured by a company no one has ever heard of.

It comes with a two-year warranty. So to be sure you don’t screw things up when it’s delivered the sales clerk at the store tells you not to remove the packaging and plug it in on your own. You have to call the distributor to arrange for one of its service representatives to come to your house. Otherwise the warranty won’t take effect. Sounds reasonable. After all, why should the distributor be responsible for fixing something you broke while installing it. Warranties are supposed to cover factory defects and parts that don’t stand up to normal wear and tear, not damage you accidentally cause.

So the service rep arrives, removes the packaging, slips the washing machine into place and plus it in. No doubt you could have done that yourself without damaging anything. He then runs through the operating procedures so you’ll know how to properly use the machine. There are a lot of options and cycles and all that, so you’re glad you waited for him. If you press the wrong button after you’ve loaded the wrong type of clothing who knows what can happen. It’s a sophisticated washing machine, which is why you paid more for it.

The service rep reminds you of that too, and even though you have a two-year warranty, he warns you to be alert for some typical problems that could otherwise be easily avoided. Don’t tilt the machine, especially while it’s running, for example. Sounds logical. The tap water contains minerals that can build up in hoses and internal components. Makes sense. After all, the same thing can happen in an electric teapot, so why not in a washing machine too? And if there’s a power surge while the machine is running, the electricity flow can suddenly exceed the voltage limit of the washing machine and damage it, perhaps beyond repair.

So to make sure nothing like that ever happens, the service rep just happens to have brought along three optional gizmos that you’re welcome to purchase. The first is a frame for the machine to sit on that matches its width and length. The platform is equipped with small wheels and a brake. If you ever need to move the machine, all you do is release the brake and wheel it where it has to go. Once it reaches its destination, apply the brake and it won’t move. No more worries about tilting the washing machine.

The second item is a water filter that will capture the minerals. Check it once every six months or so, but it should last as long as you own the machine. You’ve avoided another problem.

The final add-on is a surge protector. You attach the electric cord from the washing machine and then plug it into the electric socket. No need to worry about power surges now.

So how much do you have to pay for these three indispensable products? Well, the regular price is $300, or $100 per device. But if you sign up for an eight-year addition to your existing two-year warranty, you’ll pay just $50 for each one. The warranty covers both parts and service, so if anything ever goes wrong over the next decade you won’t have to pay a thing. But how much does an eight-year extension of the warranty cost? That breaks down to $60 a year, or $480 total.

Now since you’ve just addressed the three most common causes of washing machine breakdowns by purchasing the frame, the water filter and the surge protector, what are the chances that you’ll have $480 worth of repairs to make over between year 2, when the original warranty expires, and year 10, when the additional warranty expires? And if worse comes to worst and your washing machine completely breaks down between years 2 and 10, consider for a moment that more than half of all new washing machines sold in the U.S. cost $500 or less.

The distributor may very well be above board and his intentions may very well be good, but it doesn’t matter. A scam is a scam is a scam. If you’ve been hit by an insurance or warranty scam, contact MyChargeBack for a free consultation to determine if you can get your money back.