Financial scams in Bend, Oregon are exploding with the growth of the internet, just as they are for the rest of the country. In this article we’ll discuss common scams, how to recognize them, and some steps you should take to ensure you won’t be a victim.
Before we get started, we are financial advisors in Bend with clients located across the country. We’ve written the following blogs about financial matters in Oregon, please check them out if you’d like.
Keeping your money safe online
Why are people moving from California to Bend Oregon?
A guide to retirement planning in Bend, Oregon
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Coming soon to a scam near you!
Scammers exist in every community, preying upon the unknowing. Know the tactics the fraudsters in your area are using before you or a loved one becomes a victim of one of their financial scams.
Knowledge is our most powerful tool. The AARP has a Scam-Tracking Map that you can use to find out what’s been reported in your zip code. You could search for financial scams in Bend, Oregon near zip code 97701 using this tool. When we conducted a search on zip code 97701, we found there were six active scam reports filed between December 1st, 2020 and December 9th, 2021 within a ten mile radius (there were 13 reported within a 10-mile radius of Eugene, OR).
It would also be a good idea to report any scams to the AARP through this page so that you can help others in your community be aware.
Phone scams take advantage of people’s emotions. A caller will usually try to trick you into believing there is a dire emergency, and that you need to send money right away.
Never trust anyone who calls and demands money over the phone. Ask for their information, and tell them that you will call them back.
IRS phone scams
The IRS never demands tax payments be made over the phone. Never respond to these phone calls and especially never send them money. If you have a concern about any tax liability you may have, consult with your tax preparer or tax advisor and have him or her contact the IRS on your behalf.
The grandmother scam
Many times, phone scammers prey upon elderly people who are in cognitive decline. One such scam has been particularly effective, and it involves a caller who tells the person that a relative has been hurt and needs money for medical care. Emergency medical care is never rendered for a real-time payment, and it never requires payment in advance – they can always bill you later.
Sometimes the scammers go as far as to get someone pretending to be an attorney on the line, demanding bail money for a grandchild. Don’t believe this, either.
As with any other phone scam, ask for their contact information, hang up, and contact the appropriate agency. To prevent unwanted scam calls, register your phone on the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry.
The Census happens every ten years, and with it comes a round of scams that unfortunately trick undeserving victims. Someone falsely posing as a Census worker can steal your money, social security number or bank information. All of these, by the way, the Census never asks for. Even worse, you may be subject to bodily injury or a home invasion.
Always check for the Census worker’s badge. When the Census contacts you, verify it is legit before responding. Here are the steps you should take to question an email, phone call, or letter from the Census Bureau.
On a related note, it is not uncommon for scammers to pose as other types of government officials. In one Oregon financial hoax, fraudsters demanded senior citizens pay fines for failing to respond to their jury summons in a timely fashion – or else get arrested.
Just like in the IRS scam mentioned above, law enforcement does not call you on the phone to enforce regulation and they do not ask for money to be paid immediately (child support, parking tickets, etc). If somebody threatens to arrest you for not giving them money right away, it is most likely a scam. Report these scams to the Oregon Department of Justice.
Employment scams are a highly predatory type of financial scam. They prey upon those most vulnerable to being tricked by the allure of financial opportunity – the unemployed.
You may get an email, or it may be a fraudulent posting on a job board. There are several characteristics these types of schemes have in common:
- Promise of immediate and high income (“too good to be true”)
- Strong sense of urgency or time sensitivity
- The statement that it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
- The concept of the job being scarce and/or only offered to a select number of individuals
- A call or an on-line “employment application form” to provide confidential information such as your bank account or social security number
- Lack of clarity about who the employer is, where they are located, etc.
- It’s unclear what the job is actually about, or how what you’ll be doing
Although they may seem like they will rescue you in a moment of need, do not respond.
These are the most insidious of all the financial scams. The most unfortunate aspect of charity scams is that they exploit the good intentions of kind-hearted people, those who are seemingly the least deserving of this treatment.
Charity scams make a plea to the emotions and often try to motivate you to respond to some sort of tragic event that happened. They tell you that your donation will go to a worthwhile cause, but it is really going to the bank account of a fraudster. Often, they will try to mimic or appear similar to real charities for the same cause. Watch out for charities who ask for cash, wire transfer, gift card, or bitcoin. As these are hard to track, they are a fraudster’s dream payment type.
If you are considering donating to charity, look them up on websites such as Candid (formerly Guidestar), CharityNavigator, or even your state’s regulator.
Investment scams are fairly common. They come in all forms – letters, emails, phone calls, and even faxes. You send in your money expecting to hear back in a few months about the gains from your investment – except you never hear from them again.
Take, for example, this financial scam involving a mortgage and lending firm in Bend, Oregon. Criminals posed as a legitimate company, and offered to fund real estate loans. The scammers pocketed the money received in “upfront loan fees” using a complicated intermediary web, and never funded the loans – leaving the unwitting consumers duped.
Usually there is some supposedly high-return, low-risk investment opportunity that is presented as being available only for a limited time. It may be a “business opportunity”, the chance to invest in some rare natural resource being mined in another country, or an inheritance that you are the beneficiary of (from someone you’ve never heard of before).
Avoid being a victim by following these tips:
- Never give out your personal financial information to anyone, even someone you know, until you have conducted thorough research that involves sources independent from anyone involved in the investment.
- “Taking their word for it” is not an option, and neither is “country club diligence”, or depending upon the word of friends.
- Never work with any investment or financial professional until you confirm their licensing, preferably with as many sources as possible.
Additionally, it is a good idea to follow these tips about how to avoid scams and make sure you have checked the boxes on this cybersecurity checklist.
In a Ponzi scheme, victims are told their money will be invested, but instead it is misappropriated by the perpetrators. Ponzi schemes may go unnoticed for long periods of time, such as in the Bernie Madoff scandal, because of their secretive set up.
In a normal hedge fund, for example, investors subscribe in and their money is invested. If it makes a gain, those gains are given back to them in terms of distributions (“return of capital”) or increase in their value per share. However, in a Ponzi model, the gains are not real. They are just new investors’ money. Ponzi schemes can last for years, but eventually they burst – often after the investors have been swindled and their money is unrecoverable.
The best defense from such a scenario is to always do your research. Don’t just rely on what friends said, or “country club diligence.” Be suspicious of returns that look too good to be true or anyone who refuses to provide complete transparency about their process, where the money is held (should always be a third party custodian) and who they are.
Summary thoughts on financial scams in Bend, Oregon
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on financial scams in Bend, Oregon, and please be aware that unfortunately these shenanigans happen across the country and world.
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