Far be for people not to take advantage of each other during tough times but that seems to be the case in several situations.
1) The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers that they could get stung by economic stimulus scams, perpetrated on the Web and through email, by enticing consumers to provide personal information or a small payment. Beware of email messages and web sites asking for bank account information, asking for a small payment which will allow credit card information to be made available and links that will download malicious software or spyware. Some web sites are using deceptive names or images of President Obama and Vice President Biden to give the appearance of being legitimate while they are not.
2) California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. is warning consumers that scam artists are using the forged letterhead of major lenders to con worried Californians into paying thousands of dollars for non-existent loan modification services. Consumers can take steps to protect themselves from loan modification fraud by going to http://ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/release.php?id=1697&.
3) I have had several clients who have received letters from groups claiming they can reduce their property taxes for a small fee. We did some follow up and believe this is also a fraud. You can log onto the county's assessors' office and actually apply to have lower taxes simply by filling out an online form. You might need some help in filling it out but the information is pretty basic and is out there (at no cost).
My 2 Cents - If it sounds too good, it probably is. Ask someone you trust before you jump in and be very careful of who you let see your private information.