Q&A: The old magazine scam is alive and well. Here’s how to fight back

Dear Liz: I got scammed by a magazine company a year ago. I thought the call was about two magazines I wanted to stop as I was moving. The woman talked fast and took me through the steps with my bank card (which was stupid of me, I now know) as if she was helping and at the end she said, “Oh, those are not our magazines.” Two weeks later I was receiving about eight magazines I do not want. I changed my bank card so the withdrawals would stop, but I get so many collection calls. I hang up and block that number, but then I get more. My bank manager said consumers don’t have to pay for what they don’t want. I have told the collectors that, but they still send bills for $1,200 for three years of magazines.

Answer: Don’t expect collectors for scam artists to help you out. Amy Nofziger, regional director for the AARP Foundation, recommends you contact your state’s attorney general to file a complaint.

“Magazine subscriptions like this are still a huge complaint and the AGs need to know about it, so they [can] file enforcement against the company if needed,” Nofziger said.

You must follow certain procedures to request that the debt collection agency stop contacting you. The AG’s office may be able to help or there may be a separate collection agency board you need to contact. The Federal Trade Commission also has guidance at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection.

You also can call and speak to a trained volunteer at the AARP Fraud Watch Network who can help you through the steps. Its number is (877) 908-3360 and you can learn more at www.aarp.org/FraudWatchNetwork.

Tax refund predators are waiting

People who don’t have much money during the rest of the year can become big targets during tax refund season.

For those living paycheck to paycheck, tax refunds — which average around $3,000 — may be the largest chunk of unobligated cash they see all year. Retailers hope to get some of that money, but so do debt collectors, buy-here-pay-here car lots, and purveyors of interest-free loans that come with fat fees. People flush with cash need to proceed with caution.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to protect yourself from tax refund predators.

How to help your parents protect their money

Our financial decision-making abilities peak in our 50s and can decline pretty rapidly after age 70, researchers tell us. That’s how otherwise smart older people fall for sweepstakes frauds, Nigerian investment schemes and the grandparent scam, where con artists pretend to be grandchildren in a financial jam.

But few people want to hear that they’re not as sharp as they used to be. Many won’t recognize the rising risk of losing hard-earned life savings as they age, says financial literacy expert Lewis Mandell, author of “What to Do When I Get Stupid: A Radically Safe Approach to a Difficult Financial Era.”

“As our ability to make sound financial decisions decreases with age, our self-confidence in this area actually increases,” Mandell says.

In my latest for the Associated Press, what adult children can do to protect the finances of their parents.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: IRS changes you should know about before filing taxes. Also in the news: How to avoid your parents’ money mistakes, how to avoid tax scammers, and what to do when you’re struggling with student debt.

IRS Changes You Should Know About Before Filing Your Taxes
New rules for the new year.

How Can I Avoid My Parents’ Money Mistakes?
Charting your own financial path.

As Tax Season Approaches, So Do Scammers
Be on the lookout.

Struggling with student debt? Here are 6 things you should know
Don’t ignore the problem.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

phone-scammerToday’s top story: How to tell if that IRS tax collection call is fake. Also in the news: Strategies to maximize your child’s financial aid eligibility, how to lower your cell phone bill, and how to prevent a divorce from ruining your finances.

7 Ways to Tell If That IRS Tax Collections Call Is Fake
Don’t get duped.

Strategies to Maximize Your Child’s Financial Aid Eligibility
Increasing your odds.

4 Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
The telecoms are rich enough.

10 Ways to Prevent a Divorce From Ruining Your Finances
Protecting what’s yours.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

hidden-fees1Today’s top story: Scams to watch out for. Also in the news: Understanding Social Security spousal benefits after divorce, fixing a critical 401(k) flaw, and new airline luggage fees.

Scams Called ‘Worst’ of Consumers’ Top 10 Complaints
Don’t fall for them.

Divorce Doesn’t Preclude Social Security Spousal Benefits
Understanding the complicated rules.

How fix a critical flaw in 401(k) plans
Adjusting your retirement savings.

Some Airlines Have Rolled Out a New Luggage Fee
Pack appropriately.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

file_161555_0_tax refundToday’s top story: Investing your tax refund so it feels like splurging. Also in the news: IRS scams to avoid, financial mistakes to watch out for, and being frugal without wasting your time.

How to Invest Your Tax Refund So It Feels Like Splurging
Long term rewards.

Don’t Fall for These IRS Scams
With tax season comes scam season.

3 Big Financial Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make
Avoiding these pitfalls.

How to Be Frugal Without Wasting Your Time
Making the most of your time AND money.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

check-credit-report-easilyToday’s top story: Five credit reports you may not know about. Also in the news: Money gift ideas for the holidays, why your nest egg could be at risk next year, and the top money scams affecting your pocketbook.

5 Credit Reports You Don’t Know About But Should
How’s your casino credit?

5 Money Gift Ideas for the Holidays
Financially creative gift giving.

5 Reasons Why Your Nest Egg Could be at Risk in 2016
Looking towards the future.

12 Top Scams Affecting Your Pocketbook
The latest scams you need to watch out for.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to determine when to start taking Social Security. Also in the news: Tips for getting approved for a personal loan, what to buy and not buy in November, and five surprising sources of debt.

When to start Social Security? This tool can tell you
Getting the most from your benefits.

4 Tips for Getting Approved for a Personal Loan
Applying wisely.

What to Buy (and Not to Buy) in November
Strategic shopping.

5 Surprising Sources of Debt
Nipping them in the bud.

Federal Lawsuit Alleges Financial Aid Deception Targeting Students, Parents
Apply with care.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

check-credit-report-easilyToday’s top story: The email mistake that can hurt your credit. Also in the news: Tools to eliminate student debt, tax identity theft, and scams that target investors.

The Email Mistake That Can Hurt Your Credit
Unsubscribe is your friend.

2 Tools to Eliminate Student Loan Debt
Income-based repayment plans could reduce your monthly payments.

ID Tax Theft: What You Can Do To Limit The Damage
How to fight back.

5 Scary Schemes and Scams That Target Investors
Staying a step ahead of the scammers.

If You Have Poor Credit, Beware Extra Charges on Your Monthly Bills
You could be subject to risk-based pricing.