Westchester County

Money Protection

Money Protection

We all need to protect ourselves against scams and deceptive practices.

Bill of Rights for Taxpayers
As a taxpayer in Westchester County, you are entitled to certain rights when you work with a professional tax preparer on your tax returns or related tax matters. Effective Jan. 1, 2009, New York State has a new law regulating professional tax preparers, which includes a Consumer Bill of Rights.

Fair Debt Collections and consumer rights
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was passed by Congress in response to abusive conduct by collection agencies, and concern that the abuses were causing an increase in the filings of personal bankruptcies. The purpose of the Act is to provide guidelines for collection agencies which are seeking to collect legitimate debts, while providing protections and remedies for debtors.

Identity Theft
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in our country today. Each year more than 10 million Americans become victims of identity theft, a crime that cost them roughly $5 billion dollars. The identity thief can inflict substantial damage on the victim’s assets, credit, and reputation without the victim even being aware of the crime. You can learn more about what identity theft is, how to protect yourself from identity theft, and other important issues related to identity theft.

Foreclosure Rescue Scams
Increasing numbers of homeowners are falling behind on their mortgage payments and face the prospect of foreclosure.

With the rising tide of foreclosures has come a wave of con artists who promise to “rescue” the homeowner, but who actually run scams designed to strip the property’s built-up equity or to steal the title outright. Read more about how these scams work and tips to avoid being scammed.

 

Predatory Lending
By using unfair and illegal practices some lenders pressure homeowners into signing up for high cost and often unaffordable mortgage loans. These practices are increasing in New York State. Practices include inflated interest rates, outrageous (and often hidden) fees, unaffordable repayment terms, and harassing tactics. All of this is done by devious salespersons who trick homeowners into believing that the loan is actually affordable. Learn what you can do to protect yourself from becoming a predatory lending victim.

 

Phishing Scams
Phishing is the act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate business in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail typically directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers, that the legitimate organization already has. The Web site, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user’s information. To avoid falling for phishing scams, never click on the links or provide any sensitive information from links that look suspicious. If you are unsure, call your service directly to verify the situation.

 

Credit Repair Scams
Thinking of paying someone else to clean up your credit file? Anything they can do, you can do better and cheaper. However, repairing your credit takes time and dedication. There is no magical way to fix your credit or credit score. Protect yourself from suspicious companies selling shortcuts or easy solutions – they are most likely pulling a credit repair scam.