Chances are good you work hard for your money. And you definitely don't want to lose any of it to a scam.
Every year, the Federal Trade Commission puts out a list of top consumer complaints.
I'm going to give you the top 5 from last year, along with ways you can avoid becoming a victim.
Number 5, at 98,000 complaints to the FTC, was prizes, lotteries and sweepstakes.
Someone calls or emails you saying you've won a lottery you didn't enter.
Then they ask you for money to pay taxes or fees on that prize. Don't send a dime. You're never going to get anything back.
Number four on the FTC list: Catalog and shop at home sales.
That includes not getting what you paid for, either literally or in terms of quality. Solution?
Check store reputation and return policy before you buy something and use a credit credit card for added protection.
Number three on the FTC list... banks and other lenders.
Avoid being a victim by reading loan paperwork carefully before you sign anything.
The number two consumer complaint last year was around debt collectors.
You don't have to be bullied by these people. You have legal rights. Learn what they are and exercise them.
And now it's time for the number one consumer complaint, and I bet you know what it is. Identity theft.
Identity theft tops the FTC list of complaints for the 13th year running.
Most of those complaints are tax or wage-related fraud.
So you need to protect your social security number and keep tabs on your credit report.
Only use tax preparers you know and trust. File electronically through a trusted web site, and if you mail your tax return in, drop it off at the post office yourself.
Knowing the top 5 complaints and how to deal with them is good.
But you know, there are a lot more consumer complaints and you really need to know about all of them.
Go to moneytalksnews.com and search for "Consumer Complaints." For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.