During Saturday’s Financial Peace University class, a couple shared how a mortgage broker recently visited their home to discuss a mortgage refinance option with them. In order to get this historic low interest rate they had to sign the paperwork that night. To add insult to injury, the mortgage was an ARM tied to a weird amortization schedule. As if his pressure was not enough, he called his boss who also tried to convince them over the phone that this was an amazing opportunity that they did not want to miss.

My blood boiled.

All scum is bad but there is something extra scum-ish about people who intentionally jeopardize the financial security of hard-working people. That level of greed led our country into the greatest recession that many people are still recovering from. I won’t (while difficult) stand on my soapbox, so back to today’s post.

My conversation with them inspired this post about how to avoid money fraud. While mortgage fraud is probably the most popular there are many others–foreclosure rescue, work-from-home jobs, delinquent tax assistance and the list goes on and on. You and I must protect ourselves using CommonCents.

Here are a few of my personal filters before making a financial move:

1) Research, research, research – What are my alternatives? What is the reputation of the person or company behind the service? Is there information about them on the Better Business Bureau website? What do real customers have to say about them?

2) Thoroughly review all paperwork – Yes, I’m a reader and I take extra time to review all documentation.

3) Is it to good to be true? – Then , Trust Yourself! We know that we cannot buy a nice 4 bedroom/3 bath all brick home for under $1000, or settle $23,000 of tax debt for $2100 dollars, or settle credit card debt by allowing a 3rd party to negotiate on my behalf and reduce my rate and payments.

4) Pray – He’s a great counselor!