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Innovative Connections
In This Issue
Common Scams: A Spotter's Guide
Don't Get Schooled: Avoid Scholarship Scams
Six Steps to Take if You've Been Scammed
Financial Empowerment Clinic!
Financial Education Galore!
For Our Borrowers
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Upcoming Events

FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT CLINIC!: October 19th, 10am-3pm at the Bradley Angle Resource Center, 5432 N Albina Ave, Portland, OR 97217



October 22, 2013

9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oregon Convention Center, Portland.  Register at or call 1-877-926-8300.



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No one wants to be scammed. It makes you feel disempowered and vulnerable, and it can threaten your financial livelihood. And while we all know that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, people still get scammed every day.

At Innovative Changes, we want to help you keep your hard-earned money. So read on to learn:
There are many other resources out there to help you uncover scams as well. For example, on October 22 several organizations are coming together in Portland to host Scam Jam. This event is free (though advance registration is required), and will cover scams and schemes targeting consumers in an informative and entertaining program.

Happy Reading,
Innovative Changes


Phone scams

Long before "phishing" became a common activity over email, people were using phones to try to steal your information. Someone calls saying you owe money, but he wants to help! All he needs is your social security number. Or maybe you receive a call from a distressed "family member" asking for your bank account information or for you to wire money.


i say no

In either case, the best form of action is generally to say no and hang up. If the call supposedly came from an institution or person you know, try to call them back by using the number you previously had on file. Don't trust a new number they give you over the phone.

If you're worried about someone claiming that you owe money, check your credit report. You can do this at or directly from the credit bureaus, whose information is listed below in "Six Steps to Take if You've Been Scammed." 


Prize scams

These are the scams where someone calls, emails, or sends mail congratulating you for winning a prize. Often these scammers will ask you to pay a processing fee, call a certain number, or release sensitive information. Do not send any money, and do not give them any sensitive information.


Email scams

You've received an email from a "Nigerian prince" who just needs a small loan and can pay you back handsomely. Or your bank has unexpectedly emailed you telling you to click on a link to reset your password. Email scams come in many, many forms. Thankfully, there are resources that can help you check them out. Before you respond or even click any links, check on sites such as and for help determining if the email is a scam. Chances are you aren't the first or only person to receive such a "special offer." 


Still not sure if it's a scam?

In general, steer clear from anyone asking you to pay up front, telling you to act in a hurry, or contacting you from a source unknown to you. Take the time you need to verify what's going on so you can feel confident that your money and information are secure. Remember that the Oregon Department of Justice can be a great resource for this research. 


By Katherine Dineen  

Don't Get Schooled: Avoid Scholarship Scamstwo


sl imageWe all know that school is expensive, and that there are legitimate means to receive financial aid. Completing the FAFSA and applying for scholarships can help reduce costs. But when looking for scholarships, be careful not to fall victim to a scam. Keep these tips in mind during your search:


Don't pay money!

Some services have a fee to join and promise they have "exclusive" access to scholarships, but this is rarely the case. Instead, contact your school's financial aid or academic advising department. They should have information on free scholarship applications.


Another common scam starts with an email that says you've been selected for a scholarship. Hooray! Right? But wait, to get your scholarship, you need to pay a small fee to get the funds sent to your school. Like for the other email scams mentioned above, don't respond. Just delete the email. 


Don't trust a "guarantee."

Some services promise a "guaranteed" scholarship. Be wary. Scholarships always require some sort of review, and they typically include essays and letters of recommendation. Without seeing these materials, how could they promise you money?


Remember the FAFSA and Innovative Changes!

Still looking for ways to pay for school? Be sure to attend an Individual Development Account orientation. And be sure to fill out your FAFSA in January after getting your taxes done.  


By Cassie Russell  

checklistEventually, we'll all make a mistake. Once you realize you are-or even may be-the victim of a scam, the key is to act quickly. Take the following steps to make sure that the damage is minimized and to prevent others from getting scammed the same way you did. Here some steps you need to take:


1. Call your bank. 

Make sure there have been no unauthorized charges on your accounts. Depending on the situation, you may have to close and reopen your accounts or change your PINs and passwords. If there have been unauthorized charges on your credit cards, you are only liable for up to $50. However, for debit cards you can be liable for up to $500 if you don't notify the bank within 2 days of discovering the scam. So act quickly!  


2. Call the credit bureaus

Call the three major credit bureaus to issue a fraud alert on your credit report. This will make it so if there are any applications for new lines of credit, the creditors would take extra steps to verify your identity. You will also need copies of your credit report from all three bureaus to make sure there are no unauthorized lines of credit.

3. File a police report.  

Fraud is illegal and taken very seriously by the judicial system. This step is essential to making sure justice is served. Call your city's police non-emergency hotline to report what happened to you.

4. Replace compromised documents.

If you gave out your driver's license, passport, or any other important personal identification document, you should notify appropriate agencies and go in for replacements.


5. File a complaint to help others.

In addition to the police report, you should file a complaint with the following agencies:

Oregon Department of Justice, Consumer Protection

Federal Trade Commission


6. Take steps to prevent this from happening again.

Verify the legitimacy of parties you are giving important information to. On the Oregon Department of Justice's Consumer Protection website, you can search scams others have filed complaints about.


Want to Plan for Your Financial Future? Come to our next Financial Empowerment Clinic: THIS Saturday October 19thIDA


When: Saturday, October 19th from 10am-3pm
Where: Bradley Angle Resource Center, 5432 N Albina Ave, Portland, OR 97217
What: Meet with a financial planner for free, attend workshops on debt, retirement and savings, meet one on one with a credit expert to pull and review your credit report, learn about resources in your community, eat some food and bring your kids and the whole family!   
What else should I know?You can come and go throughout the day as you please. Meetings with financial planners and credit checks will be done on a first come first serve basis, and we will be signing people up for appointments throughout the day. There will also be Spanish translators available.
Great things to talk to a financial planner about include: 
- How do I start planning for retirement?
- What are good strategies for paying down debt?
- How much of a home or car can I actually afford?
- What are good strategies to make sure I am saving for not just myself, but my children's future?
- and more!


What is the workshop schedule?
Glad you asked! Here it is:


Debt or Savings: How do I choose?


The ABCs of Retirement


Budgeting for Your Dreams


Getting Ready for the  Holidays (with Kids!)


Meet with an expert to pull your credit report or make a financial plan.


I'm in! Do I need to register?
Registration is not necessary, but appreciated. You can do so here.

Financial Education Galorefined


We are teaching our Financial Household Resiliency classes in SE Portland and and at the Lloyd Center. Find a class near you and join us!


Alder Elementary Financial Household Resiliency Series*

Tuesday, October 22th 5:30-8:00 pm: Budgeting and Saving

Tuesday, October 29th 5:30-8:00 pm:  Hands-On Banking

Tuesday, November 5th 5:30-8:00 pm: Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit

*These classes will be held at Alder Elementary School, 17200 SE Alder St. Childcare and pizza provided! To register, contact the Alder SUN school coordinator at (503) 255-4673


October Financial Household Resiliency Series*

Tuesday,October 22nd, 5:30-7:30 pm: Making Ends Meet

Tuesday, October 29th, 5:30-7:30 pm: Budgeting and Saving

Tuesday, November 5th, 5:30-7:30 pm:  Hands-On Banking

Tuesday, November 12th, 5:30-7:30 pm: Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit


November Friday Morning Financial Household Resiliency Series*

Friday,November 1st, 10:00am-12:00pm: Making Ends Meet

Friday, November 8th10:00am-12:00pm:Budgeting and Saving

Friday, November 15th10:00am-12:00pm: Hands-On Banking

Friday, November 22th10:00am-12:00pm: Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit


*These classes will be held at our Lloyd Center office on the 3rd floor of the Lloyd Center Mall (between Nordstroms and the food court), 2010 Lloyd Center.The classes can be taken individually or as a series. They are $5 each and $15 for all four classes. Fee waivers are available for those who qualify.  Register here or call or email Misha at (503)-249-5205/

Scam Jam                              

Has this Innovative Connections  peaked your interest on scams? Well, you're in luck! The Department of Consumer and Business services will be hosting a Scam Jam on October 22nd from 9am-12:30 at the Oregon Convention Center.
Scam Jam is a free, educational, and entertaining event where you can learn about today's scams and schemes, such as Medicare fraud, insurance and investment fraud, online and door-to-door scams, identity theft, and other scams targeting consumers. 

Scam Jam is a free event that is open to the public, but you must register to attend. Registration here or by calling 1-877-926-8300

For Our Borrowers

Money treeAre You Receiving Your Payment Reminders?

If you chose to receive your payment reminders by email, make sure that they are coming to your inbox and not your junk mail. If you would like to change the way that you receive reminders (by mail, by email, or by phone call) let us know! Call Misha at 503-249-5205.

How to Make Your Loan Payment
  • You can mail your payment by check or money order to Innovative Changes, 2010 Lloyd Center, Portland, OR 97232.
  •  You can sign up for us to automatically deduct your payment from your bank account each month. Contact us if you would like to do this at 503-249-5205.  
  • You can drop off your payment (check, money order, or cash) at the Lloyd Center, 3rd Floor, Suite 2010 (2010 Lloyd Center Mall, Portland, OR 97232) Mon-Fri, 9 am-5 pm, or drop it through our mail slot on other days/times. 
  • You can also pay via PayPal by following directions on our website here. Please note, it asks you to fill in a donation amount, but this is not a donation, it will go towards your loan payment.             

We Are Here to Help!  


Are you having trouble making your payment this month, or afraid that it might be a little late? Let us know! We understand that unexpected events and expenses can make it hard to keep your finances on track, and Innovative Changes wants to be there for you in such cases. Innovative Changes is flexible and willing to work with our borrowers to satisfy loan obligations, and in return we ask for honest and timely communication. Remember, if you know your payment is going to be late, let us know ahead of time and we might be able to avoid charging a late fee or sending out a late notice.