Click to view this email in a browser
The Diamond Certified® Consumer Report Twitter link Facebook link
 VOL. 8, ISSUE 1 - JANUARY 2015

In This Issue

Mind Games: The Psychology of Scamming

Diamond Certified Preferred
Consumer Card

A Lifetime Pass to National Parks: Best Deal Ever!

Consumer Feedback:
Novato Auto Service

Diamond Certified

Savvy Tips of the Month

Top Complaints of the Past Year

Realty and Reputability: The Importance of Choosing a Dependable Agent

Carpet Care

Diamond Certified Quick Links






Read this newsletter and prior issues at Diamond Certified Newsletter Twitter

Mind Games: The Psychology of Scamming

The best way to avoid a scam is to be hypercritical when making significant financial decisions.

Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from a representative who told me we had failed to pay for our newspaper subscription since September. He said I could pay the past due amount by credit card along with another three months in advance: a total of $400. I was so embarrassed about being late on the bill that I almost fell for the scam. Just a few days later, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a full-page ad warning subscribers that this particular company wasn’t authorized to offer renewals (almost double the usual amount) and to ignore the calls and notices sent by mail.

When I think back to that original phone solicitation, I remember that the caller spoke with authority and confidence, and emphasized the importance of paying up quickly. He gave me his employee ID as well as the Chronicle’s phone number as added assurance that this was a legitimate call. He was extremely clever in how he managed my skepticism.

Experts who’ve studied the psychology of scamming say it’s not just the foolish or the poorly educated who are vulnerable to cons. Intelligent and experienced consumers may become victims if they have certain personality traits. Research shows that among other characteristics, potential victims tend to trust authority, have a lack of self-control and act in a consistent way.

So, it’s not surprising that any of us may fall victim to a con artist. According to neuroscientists, we simply aren’t hardwired to see through twisted and devious schemes. While we can usually differentiate between honesty and dishonesty, we have a much more difficult time when a fraud is cleverly disguised.

They say the best way to protect yourself from making bad decisions is by intentionally turning on your hypercritical attitude before making any significant financial decisions, and making it a habit to step away and take a deep breath before completing a purchase. Ask yourself: does this make complete sense? Is their request reasonable? Can I independently verify the veracity of what they’re saying? Or, instead of relying completely on your brain, consult with your “gut.”

Chris Bjorklund signature
Chris BjorklundChris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer

Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer Card

Diamond Certified® Preferred Customer Card

Have you signed up to become a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer? Membership is always free and comes with numerous benefits, including a special member hotline, members-only access to additional tools on, a double Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee and more. Join now to get a free copy of the 2014 Diamond Certified Directory! Visit to get started.

A Lifetime Pass to National Parks: Best Deal Ever!

This $10 card provides lifetime access to thousands of recreation sites throughout the Bay Area.
A $10 lifetime pass will give you access to 2,000 recreation sites managed by five different federal agencies. It also entitles you to discounts on other amenities such as camping, swimming and guided tours. The only catch is you have to be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident aged 62 years or older.

If you have the Senior Pass, you and up to three adults can be admitted to a park that has per-vehicle fees. If the park charges on a per-person basis, each person will have to pay a fee. You can buy the pass in person at federal parks in California like Muir Woods and Yosemite—they’ll issue a card right on the spot. Your application can also be processed through the U.S. Geological Survey Office. The disadvantage to that is you have to pay an additional $10 processing fee to receive it through the mail. But it’s still a great value.
Kudos from Diamond Certified Consumers

Dear Diamond Certified:

I had some major car repairs done a week or so ago by a fabulous Diamond Certified auto service shop, and since I was 100 percent satisfied with their work, attitude and professionalism, I thought I would send you a note. I’m sure they would appreciate knowing I was so pleased.

The company is Novato Auto Service on Redwood Boulevard in Novato, and the certified technician’s name is Scott Kaplan. Scott was very thorough, and the shop was very neat. My 14-year-old car now runs like a top. It was expensive, but it needed a lot of major repairs so I expected that, and I felt the price was fair.

M.P., Contra Costa County, CA
Diamond Certified ® Only companies rated Highest in Quality earn Diamond Certified

Companies Recently Earning Diamond Certified

B Side Inc.

Oakland - (510) 972-4979
Berkeley Hearing Center
Berkeley - (510) 398-0699
Berkeley Motor Works
Albany - (510) 992-4004
Burton Fencing
Livermore - (925) 231-4734
Carr Custom Builders
Albany - (707) 812-1993
Doors on Demand
Fremont - (510) 854-6986
Premier Construction & Home Services
Alameda - (510) 460-1418

Discount Smog Check Centers

Concord - (925) 526-5976
FC Remodeling
Richmond - (510) 398-0689
The Maids
Concord - (415) 843-1953

Golden Restoration & Construction, Inc.

Novato - (415) 938-6977

Artistic Lighting & Electric
Novato - (415) 868-5950

TLC Construction Services
Novato - (707) 874-8959

Duncan Plumbing Ent., Inc.

Santa Cruz - (831) 708-8909

American Ratings Corporation - Diamond Certified • 504 Redwood Blvd. • Suite 210 Novato, California 94947 • (877) 312-1307
©2015 American Ratings Corporation