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Scam Alert

Are These 'Scams' for Real?

Get the facts on credit card fraud, ATM debit fees and more

Your cellphone number is being released to telemarketers.

Since 2004, emails have been warning that your number will be turned over "this month," and unless you register it on the federal Do Not Call Registry, you'll be bombarded with sales calls.

Reality: Register your cell if you want, but it's not necessary. Plans for a public cellphone directory were discussed but scrapped years ago — and even that proposal was only for folks who wanted to "opt in."

The feds are going to tax every debit card and ATM transaction (or every email sent).

False claims that a 1 percent tax is likely to be levied on all financial transactions are one of the top urban legends, says legend research site Snopes.com.

Reality: A lone congressman introduced such a bill several times as a deficit reduction measure, but it has died every time. As for a pending 5-cent surcharge on each email, that tale started in 1999. It's still spread by (tax-free) email and lists a phony sponsor and bill number.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

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