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These were the top 10 scams in NY for 2019 – News – The Evening Tribune



Scammers’ most damaging weapon was using the internet to steal money and personal information from customers in 2019, according to the complaints submitted to the state Attorney General’s Office.

The office collects complaints of fraud from residents and business owners throughout the state to keep track of scam trends and get law enforcement involved when necessary.

Here are 10 most common scams customers wrote formal complaints about in 2019.

1. Internet scams

Those include issues with service providers, data privacy and security, data breaches and fraud through internet manipulation.

This would include phishing emails, which appear to be from a legitimate source and coax the receiver to provide sensitive information.

Last year, DiBella’s Subs, which operates 47 stores across the U.S., announced that its computer systems were affected by a sophisticated data breach, potentially exposing information from up to 305,000 payment cards.

What you can do: Customers should be wary of pop-up computer messages asking them to call immediately about a computer virus, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

If you know you’ve given scammers access to your computer, run antivirus software and consider reformatting your computer. Apply security updates as soon as possible and change your passwords often.

The office received 4,436 complaints in this category in 2019.

2. Consumer scams

Scams could involve security systems, technology repairs, immigration services and consignment shops.

What you should know: Potential fraud between two businesses often comes in the form of business services.

Food truck and restaurant owners from across the country complained to the Attorney General’s Office about M Design Vehicles, a Rochester-based food truck builder that often didn’t follow through on its contracts to construct food trucks, leaving customers out tens of thousands of dollars.

The complaints, collected by Democrat and Chronicle reporters through a Freedom of Information Law request, bolstered an investigation into M Design’s practices.

The office received 2,659 complaints of this type in 2019.

3. Automobiles

This includes buying, leasing and repairing vehicles, as well as service contracts and rental agreements.

Many residents are not familiar with the fine print in leasing or sale agreements, which gives untoward dealers an opportunity to bilk customers into paying out extra cash.

What you can do: Do not sign agreements that don’t have the numbers filled in, and check over your agreement to make sure there are no extra accessories or warranties present that you did not agree to or ask for. Ask for a copy of every document you sign.

There were 2,510 complaints of this type in 2019.

4. Landlord and tenant disputes

These include security deposit releases and tenant harassment.

Tenants in New York were granted a number of protections as part of new rent legislation last year.

What you should know: Landlords can only charge a maximum of $20 for a credit and background check before a lease is signed, and may only charge up to one month of rent for a security deposit or “advance payment.”

There are also additional protections for late fees and eviction.

There were 1,910 complaints about scams involving landlords and rent in 2019.

5. Utility companies and services

This includes issues with wireless and residential phones, energy suppliers, and cable and satellite providers.

A man in Geneseo was sent a mobile phone bill of over $4,000 after his information was stolen and used to buy several iPhones and phone lines on his AT&T mobile phone account.

Others through New York state have found that they’re paying double on their utility bills, sometimes attributable to energy service companies, or ESCOs, that may convince customers to sign up for unnecessary services at exorbitant costs.

What you can do: Before accepting service through an ESCO, consumers should ask how their rates compare to the rates provided directly from utility companies, the Attorney General’s Office advised.

The office received 1,811 complaints about utility scams in 2019.

6. Credit and debt services

These scams could include debt collection, credit card billing, debt settlement and debt relief, payday loans, credit repair, credit reporting agencies and identity theft.

Scammers posing as utility or financial agencies may call residents in attempts to steal credit card information.

What you can do: A good rule of thumb is to never give out sensitive financial information over the phone, no matter how convincing a caller may sound.

Debt collection scams often promise to alleviate or diminish debt quickly and easily, or may charge an up-front fee, which is illegal.

Customers can also sign up for a credit freeze through one of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. That allows you to restrict access to your credit report.

The office received 1,206 complaints of this type in 2019.

7. Retail sales

This could include any sale of goods, food, or clothing, plus rent-to-own services and online orders. Ticket websites may offer expensive seats for highly anticipated events that turn out to be stolen tickets or seats that don’t exist at all.

What you can do: Before entering into a rental purchase agreement, be sure to read and understand all terms and ask questions, including: How much are the monthly payments? What other monthly fees apply? What is the total dollar cost to own the item? Who pays for repairs? Is there a penalty for paying off the item early?

There were 1,091 complaints came in about scams of this type in 2019.

8. Home repair and construction

These include home improvement services that were not delivered or were done poorly.

What you can do: Consumer protection bureaus regularly urge customers to check customer reviews and Better Business Bureau pages before paying a contractor to seal their driveways, renovate their bathrooms or clear ice from their roofs.

The office received 901 complaints about these scams in 2019.

9. Mail order and online catalogs

These include purchases made via mail order or online catalog or marketplace.

Negative option marketing is a popular form of sales online, where online merchants treat a consumer’s failure to reject an offer or cancel an agreement as their approval to be charged for goods or services on a recurring basis, according to the Attorney General’s office.

What you can do: Read all terms and conditions before you make a purchase, know when your “free” or “trial” period ends and monitor your credit card and bank statements for any unauthorized or recurring charges.

The office received 593 complaints about these scams in 2019.

10. Mortgage services

These include mortgage modifications, mortgage and loan broker fraud and foreclosures.

What you should know: Individuals and companies may claim that they will make homeowner’s monthly mortgage payments in exchange for temporarily holding the deed to the home, allowing the homeowner to remain in the home as a renter until he/she can resume making monthly mortgage payments, according to the Office.

This may be a scam to steal the deed and attempt to evict the homeowner.

The office received 493 complaints about these scams in 2019.

What you can do next: Residents and customers can submit complaints of scams or fraud to the Attorney General’s Office at

They will be asked to fill out contact information, and provide both a description of the alleged scam or fraudulent activity as well as documents related to the case.

Customers can also call the Office’s Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection’s customer helpline at 1-800-771-7755.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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