Financial Services
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Consumer Protection

InterCambio Express is truly concerned about your falling victim of a scam or any other type of fraud. This is why we let you know the more common types of those, in order to make you aware and help you avoid a potentially risky situation that may pose a financial loss for you or your loved ones; whether the criminals attempt to get money from you by using for their illegal purposes the InterCambio Express services , another Money Transmitter company, or some other means.

How can a fraud perpetrator try to contact you?

Fraud attempts can happen through any means: from regular mail, email, social networks or other web pages and of course by phone (mobile, home or work).

What are the more common types of fraud?

In an illustrative way, and not  to be deemed as a conclusive list, these are some of the more common types of fraud:

The Relative in Distress or Kidnapped

This type of fraud takes place most of the times over the phone; although it can happen through other means. You get a call from a relative who says is having an emergency such as being arrested at the Customs office or at a police station, involved in an accident, or even kidnapped.

The way criminals operate is that they won't say the person's name, they only say that it's you uncle, nephew, cousin, etc. who moved or is heading to the U.S., and as you're taken by surprise, this prompts you to say the name of who you think is calling (IE. "Is that You John?"); then they assume being such relative ("Yes, it's me, your cousin John"); and afterwards they will trick you during the conversation to gather more information to calculate how much money they can get quickly, before you calm down and realize this is a fraud.

The purpose of this scam is that You send money, or prepaid phone Pins and Top-ups as soon as possible, so that the person can get out of trouble. Asking for top-ups instead of, or besides money, is so that they can keep having a way to communicate with other potential victims.

Another way these fraud perpetrators operate is that they call at your home first, asking for Mom or Dad, claiming to be a close relative (without saying a name), seeking that whoever answers says the name of who he/she thinks is talking (IE "Is that You Uncle Raymond?"). The criminal assumes that name and asks the respondent for his/her name, saying that since Mom or Dad are not home, he will try to reach them to their cel or work phone. Then the criminal pretends he's not carrying his cel, using this as excuse to ask for Mon or Dad's number. Afterwards, the criminals call Mom or Dad saying they have kidnapped the first call's respondent, demanding a ransom to release him/her; typically asking for a quick payment of whatever amount the new respondent has handy.

Suggestions to prevent a possible financial loss: Stay calm, don't act on impulse. It's recommended that you hang up to have some time and think things over, because the surprise factor is precisely the best tool for the criminals. Try to locate the actual relative through the usual means you normally contact him/her (IE. Phone, Instant Messenger services, social networks, email, etc.), getting aid from other family members, who either help you locate that persona, or may have had recent contact with him/her and know about the person's actual location.

If you hang up, the criminals will typically try to call you again; if by then you have been able to verify that your relative is doing fine and safe, do not take anymore calls; because there is a chance that the criminals now assume a threatening attitude towards You, saying they know who You are, where you live and work, that they will go to your home to hurt you or your family. In most cases, calls are made from another city, or even from out of the state or the country. Contact your local authorities to report these cases. 

The Lucky Winner

You are told that you won the lottery, a sweepstakes, or some other pize; and that in order to receive it, you must pay for the applicable taxes and/or administrative fees, by wiring or depositing a certain amount.
Suggestions to prevent a possible financial loss: If you have not purchased a lottery ticket, nor sent entries for any type of sweepstakes, there is no way that you have become the winner of any. Avoid any further contact with the fraud perpetrators.

The Last Next of Kin

Someone posign as a lawyer, notary, judge, or some other kind of authority contacts you stating that a millionaire person or couple who died in an accident in that nation did not leave a will; and that after a major search, they have found you, the only next of kin related to them, and now inheritor of that fortune; and in order to get it, you must send money to cover the legal fees.

Suggestions to prevent a possible financial loss: Whenever some passes away without leaving a will, his/her legitimate relatives apply for a grant of representation; and should there be no relative applying for such grant, in most countries that small or big estate becomes state property. There is no authority that is assigned to search relentlessly for a possible inheritor of such estate. Avoid any further contact with the fraud perpetrators.

The Overpayment Check

You are offered a job as a mistery shopper or something similar, and get a check by mail to buy the items you are supposed to do mistery shopping on, or some other expenses such as transportation, etc. Shortly, you are tod that you were mailed a check for a higher amount than you should have received; and the criminals ask you to deposit that check in your account and send them the "Overpayment".  Later, the check  which is either counterfeit or with insufficient funds bounces, and you must pay its full amount to the bank. 

Suggestions to prevent a possible financial loss: Do not deposit that check, nor cash it at some business. Tell the fraud perpetrators that you have destroyed it and that you look forward to getting a new one for the right amount. It's pretty sure you will not get that second check ever. 

Missing Pet, or Lost Item

If your pet is missing, or lost some item on the street, and you run an ad at some local newspaper or a classifieds web page; whether you specify a reward or not, be careful when contacted by someone claiming to have found the pet or the item, and ask you to send some advance money to return it..
Suggestions to prevent a possible financial loss: Avoid sending such advance reward, and ask for evidence that they actually have the missing pet or lost item, making an agreement to pay any reward upon actual delivery.

Advance Payment for an Item on a Classified Ad

If you are interested on an item that you saw over the Internet o in a newspaper ad, or it was offered to you over the phone (from a home decor item to a car or anything else), for which the alleged seller asks you for an advance or down payment sent directly to him/her, and there is no clear information on the ad about the seller's location and reputation; it very likely that once you sent that initial payment, you no longer know anything else about that person. 

Suggestions to prevent a possible financial loss: To start with, do not trust any offer that seems too good to be true; most likely it will not be real. On the most popular websites for auctions and person-to -person sales, there are payment options through secure methods, which protect genuine transactions for both the seller and the buyer.

False Charities

Nowadays many false charities appear out of nowhere. Using heart-saddening images of elderly people, children and families living in disgrace, they try to obtain donations that will never make it to those people. 
Suggestions to prevent a possible financial loss: Be careful with any donations request for charities that you get, by any means. Make sure that not only such institution does exist; also, check that the means to receive donations is an actual account belonging to the charity, as you me be asked for a donation to a well known institution (IE. Red Cross); but you are told to send such donation to a person, or write a check to the bearer.

Online Dating

You contact, or are contacted via Internet or email by someone who is attractive to you, starting out a relationship that over time becomes more and more important to You. That is when that person realizes you are affectionally hooked, he/she starts asking for money to travel and meet you in person, for the medical care or funeral of a relative; or in general to cover some expense, from unexpected to an everyday one (IE He/she has no money to pay the Internet service, will be disconnected at any time, and won't be able to stay in touch).

Suggestions to prevent a possible financial loss: Keep an equilibrium between your affective emotions and your good judgment; especially if the person evades having a video conference to see each other live,  and only sends pictures over the internet or via email. Sometimes the fraud perpetrator is not even of the same gender of the person he/she claims to be; and that's the reason he/she refuses to take calls, allegedly because of language difficulties. 

About this Information

As some types of fraud become known, criminals look for new ways to scam people; therefore, there may be many other types of scams and frauds in addition to the ones mentioned above; or the criminals may try to perpetrate the fraud ny another means.

The purpose of this section is that you are alert against possible fraud or scam attempts, and should not be taken as legal advice. The suggestions indicated on each scenario are just for informational purposes, and do no guarantee that by following them, you can get rid completely of the criminals and their actions.

Keep in mind that the most important thing is staying informed, always avoid acting on impulse; and reporting to your local authorities any fraud, scam, or extortion attempt.