HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A recent report of a Lancaster County consumer losing nearly $20,000 to an advance fee prize scam is a painful reminder to Pennsylvanians to use caution when approached with offers requiring payment of large upfront fees for prizes, loans, loan modifications, loan refinancing, or credit cards, Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Banking and Securities Secretary Robin L. Wiessmann emphasized today.
"Pennsylvanians work hard for their money and deserve better than to be scammed," Governor Wolf said. "Our state's law enforcement and consumer protection agencies are working diligently to give citizens the tools they need to protect themselves as well as seeking out and prosecuting scam artists."
"Advance fee con artists pose as representatives of companies that seem real," said Secretary Wiessmann. "They frequently try to attract individuals with promises of easy or 'guaranteed' approval. However, in order to take advantage of the offer, the victim must pay high, but seemingly legitimate fees for the application, insurance or other 'services.' In the end, the scam artist takes off with the fee and the victim gets nothing in return."
"Even in this modern age, it is important for consumers to remember an old piece of advice: 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,'" Wiessmann continued. "Before you invest, make sure you investigate where it's going and who is receiving it."
People encounter advance fee scams in a variety of ways, including telemarketing calls, text messages, emails, well-designed documents, classified ads and the Internet, including social media.
The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities urges consumers to take these four steps to protect themselves and their money:
- Avoid any credit offer that requires an upfront payment. Although a lender may charge application, credit report and other fees, they are generally subtracted from the loan amount after it is approved.
- If you are asked to pay fees via a wire transfer or prepaid debit card, especially to someone in another country, exercise caution. Such payments are extremely difficult to recover or trace.
- Know who you are dealing with. If you have not heard of the person or company, take the time to learn more about them.
- If you become a victim of an advance fee scam, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission.
Comprehensive lists of enforcement orders administered by the Department of Banking and Securities are available online at www.dobs.pa.gov under "Public Info." Consumers can make inquiries about financial services or products or file a complaint regarding unfair, unsuitable, or illegal financial transactions by contacting the Department of Banking and Securities online or by calling 1-800-PA-BANKS (800-722-2657).
Media contact: Ed Novak, 717-783-4721
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities