Fourteen Halloween Financial Horror Stories


In the spirit of Halloween, we found the spookiest reader stories that creeped their way into our editor's inbox at Bankrate. From Nigerian scams to evil customer service tricks, the tales that follow happened before and will happen again.

Take a lesson from these dreadful experiences. Promptly file a complaint with any company that has mistreated you and report the business to a regulatory authority if necessary.

Company names have been changed in case angry business entities with lawyers haunt this article.

1. Tax refund rip-off
Within the last three weeks, I received an e-mail stating I had an IRS refund that had three cents in change. The e-mail directed me to click on a link whereby I should complete the form sending them my Social Security number, debit card number and the security code on the back of the debit card.

I knew immediately it was a scam. First, if the IRS owed me money, they would mail me a check. But most of all, we do not deal in change on our tax returns.

After reading the e-mail, you were directed to click and go to the form. That next page was in the format of the real IRS Web site. They had various links you could press to go to other segments of the site, just like the genuine IRS site.

I forget just how it read, but I clicked on something that would take me to my local IRS offices -- I just had to put in my ZIP code -- and a selection of addresses in my county of Pinellas, Fla., came up. This list included phone numbers. After selecting one of the numbers and dialing it, I got an automated voice telling me to put in my Social Security number.

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I know how to override an automated message to speak to an operator so I proceeded to do this. Then, again, an automated voice told me that I could not speak to a live person at that phone number. I then hung up, logged in to the official IRS Web site -- -- and on the entry page there was a story about the recent scam that I had experienced.

2. Eerie employment offer
I received an e-mail soliciting me to collect money for a company outside the United States and all I would need to do when the checks and money orders came was deposit them in my account, keep 10 percent for myself, and forward the rest of the money, minus the wire transfer, to someone overseas.

But my bank placed a hold on the money orders for 12 days. Then the bank let me know they weren't good. I turned everything over to the post office to handle the situation because the bank couldn't do anything. Luckily, I waited to see if they were good.

Web of Worthless Checks...Read More