updated 9/13/2010 2:45:53 AM ET 2010-09-13T06:45:53

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 10, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Equity Highrise, a California-based web marketing firm, has identified several scams that are currently on the rise and is informing consumers on how to avoid them. Especially in the current climate, it can be easy for innocent people to be drawn in by scammers with promises of extra income, or simply the prospect of financial and economic relief for people struggling with unemployment, budget difficulties or other problems brought on by the ailing economy. By arming consumers with knowledge, Equity Highrise hopes to reduce the instance of these common schemes, keeping money with consumers and out of the hands of scammers. Here are three scams to be aware of and their telltale signs:

Foreclosure Avoidance

Mortgage delinquencies and resulting foreclosures have reached a historic high in 2010. That increase has also brought a surge in the number of scam artists looking to take advantage of desperate homeowners.

"For scam artists, the all-time high foreclosure rate is an opportunity in the same way that pushing toxic subprime loans was during the housing boom," said Bernell Grier, CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of New York ( NHS ).

He added that alert consumers can identify fraud from legitimate help if they're aware of tell-tale signs. Consumers should be wary of anyone who asks for a fee in advance, tells them that they can guarantee a halt to the foreclosure process or instructs them not to pay their bank in favor of sending the money to a different entity. Foreclosure scams nearly always have one or more of these components: the scammer will promise the troubled homeowner that they will stop the foreclosure, pressure them to pay a huge deposit fee and then convince them to start sending their mortgage checks to a fake business or other associate. By the time the victim realizes what is going on, the scam artist has already disappeared.

False Business Opportunities

Home business scams have been around for a long time, but they have become increasingly common as criminals have moved to take advantage of people who are looking to leverage hard-earned savings in order to be well positioned to take advantage of an eventual economic recovery. Scam Artists hawking business opportunities will often promise tremendous return on investment on a "right away" time table and pressure victims to pay a large deposit in order to receive "secret" or "proprietary" information about the concept or other details about the business.

Jolly Backer, CEO of Fresh Healthy Vending, a nationwide provider of healthy vending franchises, said that the most important thing that consumers can do to protect themselves is make sure that they are able to get the information about the business model upfront – before they break out their wallets.

"It's all about full disclosure. When someone is sharing a business opportunity with you they should be eager to have all the information on the table, because for a legitimate business that protects both parties. At Fresh Healthy Vending scams are something we avoid by providing potential franchisees with an extensive 100 page disclosure, so they know exactly what they are investing their money in. That's not just Fresh Healthy Vending's policy; it's an advantage of owning a franchise. It's about transparency; anyone who is holding back details is doing so for a reason," He said.

Employment Scams

With the job market struggling as well, employment scams are also on the rise. It's important that job seekers be wary of the possibility of scammers and dishonest potential "employers" who are actually looking to profit from people desperate for work.

Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, a popular online classified service, urges people who are in the employment market to beware.

Those searching for jobs should avoid anyone claiming to be with a job placement service who says that they can guarantee employment. Scammers posing as compassionate employment counselors may then pressure their victims for financial or other personal information, or ask for a cash deposit.

Consumers should also beware of jobs being a "local representative" for a far-away company. The con artist then asks the victim to begin cashing checks using their personal bank account and to forward the money on to other company "offices." It comes out later that the checks were fake – and the innocent "employee" is held liable by the bank.

About Equity Highrise

Equity Highrise is a full-service web marketing firm, specializing in executing successful multi-dimensional marketing and advertising campaigns, producing measurable results for each and every client. As part of its goal of innovation in marketing, EH maintains a focus on empowering consumers with the knowledge they need to navigate an ever-changing world marketplace.

The Equity Highrise Marketing logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=7811

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