This week LSS is celebrating Dr. Seuss! Just like many kids across the country, we are paying special attention to the great messages that come from his collection of books! Today, LSS Center for Financial Resources will feature the classic And To Thing That I Saw It On Mulberry Street on the blog.
They’ll never crash now. They’ll race at top speed
With Sergeant Mulvaney, himself, in the lead.
The Mayor is there and he thinks it is grand,
And he raises his hat as they dash by the stand.
The Mayor is there and the Aldermen too,
All waving big banners of red, white and blue.
And that is a story that NO ONE can beat
When I say that I saw it on Mulberry Street!
With a roar of its motor an airplane appears
And dumps out confetti while everyone cheers.
And that makes a story that’s really not bad!
But it still could be better. Suppose that I add…..
A Chinese boy who eats with sticks…
A big Magician doing tricks…
A ten-foot beard that needs a comb…
No time for more, I’m almost home.
I swung ‘round the corner and dashed through the gate,
I ran up the steps and I felt simply GREAT!
For I had a story that NO ONE could beat!
And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street!
And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street – by Dr. Seuss
What a great story! While just a good children’s book, I think this should be filed under non-fiction at the library. I can totally see my son, in the role of Dr. Seuss’ Marco, coming up with this very same story. Have you ever heard those stories? They are so outlandish that we can’t in any way believe them to be true. There is just no way. And yet we hear them. While we tend to dismiss the wild tales as fantasy, there is that other adage – truth can be stranger than fiction.
This week is “National Consumer Protection Week”. Why do we need a whole week focused on consumer protection? Because the truth can be stranger than fiction! Here are just a few recent examples I am aware of:
- An individual was refused a lease because they had small children and the landlord didn’t like kids who “ruin stuff”.
- A local car dealer was fined over $360,000 for deceptive advertising.
- Hundreds of credit cards were scanned and the information stolen when used at a local restaurant.
- A local couple lost $1,000 in ‘shipping fees’ through a fraudulent offer to buy their vehicle online.
- In a late-night call from a debt collector, the collector swore at them, threatened to tell everyone what a bad person the individual was, threatened to throw them in jail, threatened to have their kids taken away, and threatened to publicly publish their payment history.
- A local lender refinanced a couple’s properties and took all of the equity and moved back to Columbia. They sold their residence and the bank took the equity, then foreclosed on their six investment properties.
And to think that I saw it right here in Sioux Falls.
I told you that the truth is often stranger than fiction. The US Government established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to take care of issues just such as these. Because there aren’t always watchdogs close enough to catch all of the abuses, consumers need to be aware and educated so that they too don’t fall victim to fraud.
Here are a few red flags to watch out for towards protecting yourself:
- “This is the deal of a lifetime!” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your gut.
- “I’m trying to locate an heir.” Odds are, you aren’t going to inherit from someone you didn’t even know existed.
- “Send me money so I can send you more.” Have them keep a portion and send you the rest…. If there is any money.
- “Just trust me.” If they need to convince you to do that, there is probably a reason you didn’t in the first place.
- “No pressure, but we need to do this right now or you’re going to miss out and you can’t afford to miss out so don’t worry about reading it just sign it so that you don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity!” No pressure, BUT…. It’s like saying “I love you, but…” You have the right to read and understand everything you sign before you sign it.
- “I’m only in town with this offer today.” So then what? Find a local expert that will stick around.
- “I just need to verify…” Keep your personal information personal unless you want them to make it personal.
These are just a few of the warning signs to watch out for. To be totally honest, scammers can be incredibly intelligent people. They are good at what they do. They just use it the wrong way. While I wish it didn’t have to be, we need to be aware and protect ourselves. Unfortunately, there isn’t always someone else there to watch out for us.
For more information, you can check out the CFPB website.
If you have been the victim of fraud and need help getting your finances back on track, our counselors can walk you through your credit report, bills, and other information to help you formulate a plan for recovery. We also provide free education classes on fraud prevention.
Dr. Seuss told a great story through his character Marco. Let’s make sure that the fantastical tales stay in the children’s books.
written by Breck Miller