Growing Used Car Scam

Used car scam, mulch and termites, and medicare drug benefit plan: Internet ScamBusters #170

Today we are doing another Internet Snippets issue, since we have three important topics for you:

– Growing Used Car Scam

– Does Buying Mulch From Major Home Improvement Stores Spread Formosan Subterranean Termites After Hurricane Katrina?

– Medicare Drug Benefit Plan Deadline Looming

Time to get going…

Growing Used Car Scam

Here’s a used car scam that is growing very quickly right now: Scammers are getting more clever about putting counterfeit vehicle identification numbers (VINs) on stolen cars and trucks.

Even experienced used car dealers can now be fooled.

This is an important used car scam for you to know about, since cars with these counterfeit VINs could be seized by police and other authorities, and you’d be out the money you paid for the used car.

Action: First, check the VIN plate for peeling, color problems, or any other sign that the VIN plate may not be right. If you think there could be a problem, don’t buy the car.

In addition, CarFax is an excellent resource for checking and tracing the make, model and background of a used car. Make sure the description of the car matches the car you are considering purchasing. This is a very worthwhile step to take before buying a used car. Visit CarFax now.

Does Buying Mulch From Major Home Improvement Stores Spread Formosan Subterranean Termites After Hurricane Katrina?

Perhaps the most common question we were asked this past week is whether an email about mulch, termites and Hurricane Katrina is true or a hoax. Here is an example of the email:

— Begin Mulch Hoax Email

Subject: FW: Cheap Mulch – Be Careful What You Buy!

If you use mulch around your house be very careful about
buying mulch this year. After the Hurricane in New Orleans
many trees were blown over.

These trees were then turned into mulch and the state is
trying to get rid of tons and tons of this mulch to any state
or company who will come and haul it away. So it will be
showing up in Home Depot and Lowes at dirt cheap prices with
one huge problem; Formosan Termites will be the bonus in many
of those bags.

New Orleans is one of the few areas in the country were the
Formosan Termites has gotten a strong hold and most of the
trees blown down were already badly infested with those

Now we may have the worst case of transporting a problem to
all parts of the country that we have ever had. These termites
can eat a house in no! time at all and we have no good control
against them, so tell your friends that own homes to avoid
cheap mulch and know were it came from

— End Mulch Hoax Email

Is this true? The folks at have done an excellent job of answering this question thoroughly. Their one word answer is that it is false; however you can read their complete answer here.

Medicare Drug Benefit Plan Deadline Looming

On January 1, 2006, a new Medicare prescription drug coverage program began in the US. This program requires that to participate, Medicare beneficiaries select from, and enroll in, one of the many different plans available in their area.

Many Medicare beneficiaries have found the choices to be difficult to sort out, so they have not yet selected and enrolled in a plan.

However, the deadline for choosing and enrolling in a new Medicare drug plan is May 15, 2006. After that date, there are financial penalties for enrolling in a plan.

There are some good resources available online to help with the process. One such site is

Click on the link that says “Click here to find a Medicare Prescription Drug plan that’s right for you.”

For those without Internet access, a new toll-free number is now also available. Seniors and their families can now call 1-866-723-0416 to help them get more information to make the right choice on which plan to select.

For more tips on selecting the best Medicare discount card and plan for you, click here.

That’s it for today — see you next week.