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Scammers’ ‘silly errors’ can give them away

Kim Johnson of Albuquerque, the designated scam expert in his family, is thinking of starting a new hobby: Collecting the “silly errors” contained in fraudulent emails.

He was inspired recently when his inbox delivered a good one – a supposed tech-related invoice for $654. But the confirmation number was a dead giveaway that he was looking at mass spam. It said, “[-randomnumber-].”

“Many in my family ask me about whether a suspicious email is really a scam or not, so I try to keep up,” Johnson says. “I may start a collection of scammers’ silly errors to help people see the kinds of things to look for – especially the ones who are not totally comfortable with computers but use them a lot anyway.”

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The state’s Real Estate Commission is warning of timeshare exit companies that are offering fake help in getting out of timeshare contracts.

The effort is likely playing on pandemic-related financial hardship by making “unfounded claims about future special assessments and increases in maintenance fees due to the coronavirus,” according to a news release from the state Regulation and Licensing Department.

The goal is to scare people so they are vulnerable to the pitched deal.

The companies may say they are licensed, so a key way to protect yourself is to double-check to make sure this is true, says department Secretary Marguerite Salazar.

Call 1-800-801-7505 or email RLDRealEstate.Comsn@state.nm.us.”>href=”http://RLDRealEstate.Com”>RLDRealEstate.Comsn@state.nm.us.

Also, never pay an upfront fee to an unregulated company, the commission says.

Other tips when it comes to selling or purchasing a timeshare, courtesy of the state Real Estate Commission:

n Be suspicious of companies that mail, text or email you “out of the blue.” You can do a quick check by searching online for customer complaints.

n Consider doing business only with an entity that gets paid after the timeshare is sold.

n Be cautious of high-pressure sales tactics and companies that won’t give you details.

n Avoid companies that refuse to meet with you in person, that make unqualified guarantees about selling your timeshares and that say you can simply walk away from a timeshare by transferring it to a third-party.

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It’s online Christmas shopping time, with consumers seeking deals and inboxes bombarded with unsolicited coupons and special bargains.

This is a very good time to sharpen your skeptic skills and practice some basic safety tips.

For starters, pay everything by credit card because there are more protections than debit cards offer. Of course, never mail cash or wire money to sellers.

Make sure the seller is legitimate by checking for reviews about reputation and customer service.

Also, before you enter credit card information online, check that the website address is secure by looking for an address that starts with “https.” The “s” stands for secure.

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210​.

 

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