Archive for Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Students learn fine art of scam prevention

November 20, 2002

Tonganoxie High School seniors heard a lesson Monday on how to avoid financial pitfalls.

THS principal Mike Bogart told students that in the next years there would be people trying to take advantage of them. Jennifer Daniels, Tonganoxie police officer, arranged the assembly so that students could be better prepared to handle their finances wisely after they graduate from school.

"The fact is, there will be people out there who want your money and sometimes they get that by scamming," Bogart said.

Shelly Welch, special agent in the consumer protection and antitrust division of the office of Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall, gave the students tips.

"There are a lot of ways scam artists try to get your money," Welch said.

Some scam artists target the elderly. Others target high school seniors, college freshmen and young married couples.

It's wise to watch out for offers that sound too good to be true, Welch said.

For instance, she noted a travel club promising trips for the cost of a $250 refundable deposit. Those putting down their money could specify when and where they want to travel.

"The scam was about five weeks later they got a letter from the company saying that's not good, we don't have room for you so pick another date," Welch said.

"It never works out. You are never given the free tickets. You don't ever get to go anywhere and the $250 that was refundable, well pretty soon the company goes out of business and you never get your money back."

Welch also told the students about her experiences in going undercover, for instance, posing as a relative of a young person who purchased a used car that wound up having 100,000 more miles than she thought.

That the car salesman didn't tell the buyer the actual number of miles on the car is an omission of a material fact, Welch said.

In that instance, the dealer agreed to take the car back and reimburse the buyer for purchase price and repairs.

"The most important tip before you buy a car is to have a mechanic check it out," Welch said.

It's also a good idea to check up on the seller or the business, she said.

"If you're going to make a purchase, call our office and see if we have any complaints about the business if we have ever sued them," Welch said.

Teens need to be aware of the importance of reading small print, especially when signing up for services such as health clubs.

"Beware of the ones that say this membership is perpetual," Welch said. "Never sign anything that says perpetual never be on the hook for anything until the day you die."

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