RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

Be Wary of Phantom Debt Scams

February 9, 2015 1:48 am

A recent National Consumers League (NCL) analysis of more than 10,000 consumer complaints submitted in 2014 underscores a very real issue: “refund and recovery,” or phantom debt scams.

The predominant version of the “refund and recovery” scam involves a fraudster contacting a consumer claiming to be collecting unpaid debts. If the consumer questioned the debt, the scammer frequently threatened them with jail time, legal action or other consequences. Fake check scams, Internet merchandise scams and bogus prizes/sweepstakes scams are also common.

“Fraud remains one of the most pernicious threats facing consumers today,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “We are particularly concerned about scammers increasingly relying on the ‘old-fashioned’ telephone as a way to reach millions of potentially vulnerable consumers.”

The telephone was reported by nearly 43 percent of complainants as the way that they were first contacted by a scammer, ahead of the Web (almost 31 percent), email (almost 16 percent) and postal mail (almost 7 percent).

“Credit card transactions are a safer way for consumers to pay for products since they can dispute fraudulent charges with their credit card company,” said John Breyault, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud. “Unfortunately, when a fraud victim sends money via wire transfer or prepaid debit card, the chances of getting their money back are much lower.”

Source: NCL

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Take the Stress Out of Renovating

February 9, 2015 1:48 am

(BPT) - If you're ready to hire someone for your first-ever home renovation, you're likely focused more on the result of the project, not the process. Seasoned renovators will tell you that even a foolproof renovation plan will require some major lifestyle adjustments. For first-timers, it's important to be prepared - financially, logistically and mentally - for the project. Keep in mind:

Prior planning prevents poor performance. Some things in life can be over-planned, but renovation isn't one of them. Don't skimp on the planning process. You need to use patience and care when choosing a project that will increase your home's value and your enjoyment of the space. You'll also need to decide how you will finance the project, select a contractor and deal with potentially major issues.

Homeowners also need to define what they want to accomplish. For example, do you just need an updated look or do you want an entirely new living space? You can glean ideas from publications, websites and other resources and also seek out professional assistance, such as from an interior decorator.

Your contractor is going to become your new roommate. Most homeowners continue to live in their homes during a major renovation, so you'll be spending a lot of time with your contractor. Hire a professional contractor who is licensed, insured and certified. Look for a firm that is conscientious about everything it does, has an experienced team and is used to handling large projects.

To find an ideal firm, get referrals from friends and from the firm itself and look at company websites. During the interview process, talk to prospective firms about timeline, logistics, realistic expectations and budget management. It's important to understand the scope of the project and how your contractor proposes to handle any challenges that arise.

There will be dust. Dust will happen - guaranteed. Every phase of remodeling creates dust, and it's the top threat to livability during a renovation. In addition to the nuisance of dust settling throughout your home, it can cause difficulty for people with existing respiratory problems and damage your belongings. Before you sign a contract, make sure the remodeler has a dust control plan for your project.

The little things that will get to you. While your contractor is tearing down walls and re-creating your living space, life will still go on in your home. Piano lessons will continue, deliveries will take place, bedtimes will remain and meal prep will go on. Meanwhile, your contractor's crews need somewhere to park their work vehicles and might not remember to put every tool away (and out of reach of your kids) at the end of a day. It's important to communicate with your contractor about these logistics and how you can work together to make the renovation go smoothly with as little disruption to your lives as possible.

It will be worth it. A major kitchen remodeling project recoups more than 74 percent of its cost at the time of resale, and adding an attic bedroom returns more than 84 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report. In addition to financial considerations, completed renovations can improve curb appeal and livability.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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