Federal, state and local agencies throughout the country are facing significant budget cuts, including those charged with keeping you safe from fraud and scams.
So it's more important than ever that consumers take responsibility to watch out for fraud.
On "The Early Show," CBS News Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis looked at some of the most notorious scams and problems consumers are facing right now.
According to Jarvis, more than 250,000 complaints about fraud were received last year by state and local agencies.
The No. 1 gripe?
<b>Vehicle scams: And it's not just about buying. We all know you can go out, you can buy a lemon. You can buy a car that needs a lot of help. But sellers are also facing a new scam, where they try to sell a car, and all of a sudden, the person buying it, they're not honest. They give a cashier's check or a check that ultimately bounces. They already have the car in their possession. As a result, you are out the car, and you're not getting paid."
So, first of all, never hand the car over until you have the cash and you make sure the cash hits your account. Make sure you were given real, valid money. And avoid taking any personal checks. You don't want to do that in these transactions, especially if the buyer is contacting you over the Internet.
The unemployment rate is still at 9.2 percent, another vulnerability scammers are tapping into, <b>targeting job seekers</b>.
"It is a disgrace that people are taking advantage of the 14.1 million unemployed individuals in this country," Jarvis says. "And they are doing it in a major way by putting together these phony placement agencies. They pretend to help your job search by asking you to pay them up front. It's horrible. They don't actually exist. They're not real, legit organizations, but they pretend and they ask you for money.
To avoid getting ripped off, remember that you never have to pay cash to get a job. In general, if a business hires you, they're the ones who will pay the placement agency that finds you. Never, ever pay money to get a job.Consumers also need to keep an eye on <b>online coupons</b>, such as those from Groupon and Living Social.
While Jarvis says she wouldn't "flat-out call this fraud," she says you have to be vigilant about them. Why? Because they have expiration dates, and many people aren't paying attention to the fine print, which says the coupon is only good for 90 days. It's important to be mindful of these particular windows of time in which you can actually use the coupon.
If a coupon says it's expired, there absolutely is something you can do. You can get the face value of the coupon after it expires, or go back to the company, tell them you want your money back, you're not satisfied. They're generally give it to you."