About the Law
---- — Summer is here and there are lots of fun things to do. But, beware of getting burned by the sun or by scams making the rounds. Here are a few.
FBI Computerlock Scam: You’ve downloaded copyrighted movies or committed some other violation on the Internet. An official looking “FBI” screen pops up and locks your computer.
It demands $200 within 72 hours or they’ll prosecute. You can pay by purchasing “Green Dot Moneypacks” at one of the listed stores.
This hoax has nothing to do with the government. One computer expert says even if you fall for the $200 payment, they then claim the price went up and demand more.
Bank Security Info Update Scam: No bank “updates” your security info by email. Never respond to “we’re updating your information” emails from a bank by sending your date of birth, social security number or other information to “verify,” ever.
Payday Loans: If you can’t wait a few more days for the paycheck, these loans will only make things worse. They blatantly threaten and harass, caring less about illegal collection activities. Many are based in distant jurisdictions not subject to U.S. law.
Payday loans are illegal in some states. New Hampshire law allows interest only and no fees or charges on payday loans, but up to 36 percent annually is allowed (RSA 399A:1). Massachusetts law requires licensing of “small loan” operators, interest up to 23 percent allowed (MGL 140 § 96).
Congratulations - You Won Scam: The problem is they need you to send them money to pay postage, processing or other fees. No, you know what lotteries and other contests you’ve entered.
Inheritance Scam: The email tells you some distant relative died, leaving you an enormous sum. Send your bank account and routing number, and they’ll send the money. People fall for it, provide the vital bank data then see their bank accounts drained by someone in a country untouchable by U.S. law.
Computer Scare Scams: A bar graph animation pops up warning your computer has viruses, registry issues and other demons. They promise a full cleaning if you pay with a credit card. Run. Log onto another computer and search removal info. You can do this with the phony FBI scam.
Credit Repair Scams: Anyone can dispute items on their own credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, available online, spells out the process. Pay money for someone else to do this? That entity cares less about your finances. Not to be confused with legit credit counseling approved by the U.S. Trustee’s office, listed on their website, and overseen by the U.S. Justice Department.
Debt Consolidation Scams: Often, these agencies contact the easier to deal with lenders. But, they ignore the tougher lenders. So, your hard-earned payments do not reduce overall debt. Some bankruptcy filers told a bankruptcy trustee they had done debt consolidation successfully. He replied, “So you’re the one.” Great job. They were in bankruptcy.
Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to email@example.com.