BBB REPORTS THE TOP 10 SCAMS
AND RIP-OFFS OF 2009
January 06, 2010
Anchorage, Alaska 2009 will be remembered as a year when
consumer finance, employment and pop-culture trends were at the
forefront of everyone's minds-especially scammers, who preyed
heavily on emotions. Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon
and Western Washington reports on the top 10 scams of 2009:
1. Lottery checks - Consumers receive phoney letters in
the mail from supposed lotteries like "Publisher's Clearing
House" telling them they've won millions, and must wire
hundreds of dollars back to the scammers to cover taxes or some
other bogus fee. The letter is accompanied by a check for as
much as $5,900 with instructions to call the Publishers Clearing
House representative listed in the letter. Over the phone, the
victims are told that, in order to receive their prize, they
must cash the check and then wire approximately $4,000 to Publishers
Clearing House and then the rest of the winnings will be sent
to them. The check, however, is fraudulent and any money wired
to the scammers cannot be recovered.
While this scam predominantly
takes advantage of individuals, business owners also need to
be aware that their company's name could potentially be used
by fraudsters to pull off this con. The fraudulent checks sent
to the supposed prize winners with the letter are copies of checks
from legitimate businesses which have been stolen by the scammers.
2. Mortgage foreclosure
rescue /debt assistance - Unethical companies target
families struggling in the current economy by offering to help
save their home or reduce debt; victims pay hundreds of dollars
up-front for assistance they never receive.
3. Robocalls - Phone
numbers - some of which are on the do-not-call list - receive
harassing automated telemarketing calls, which often falsely
claim that the consumer's auto warranty is about to expire or
offer to help reduce debt and credit card interest rates. The
issue prompted the FTC's ban on robocalls.
4. Job hunter scams - As
unemployment in the U.S. hit double digits for the first time
in over 25 years, scammers had a large pool of out-of-work individuals
to target, taking advantage of job hunters: False work-at-home
opportunities and rebate processing schemes abound.
BBB offers the following advice
to help job hunters avoid being taken advantage of by a work-at-home
- Beware of offers that sound
too good to be true, including the promise of big bucks for little
work or no experience.
- Always check out the company's
BBB Reliability Report for free at www.bbb.org to see if the
company has received a passing grade from BBB.
- Never give your credit card
or checking account information to an individual or business
that promises employment. Legitimate employers never charge fees
to prospective employees. Period.
5. Mystery shopping - The
job asks consumers to secret shop a few stores, evaluate customer
service and then transfer money back to their employer via Western
Union or MoneyGram. The scam company sends an authentic-looking
check to cover the costs. After wiring funds, victims discover
it's a fake check and are out hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Your Better Business Bureau
serving Alaska identifies 10 signs of a secret shopper job opportunity
- 1. While they advertise in
a newspaper's 'help wanted' section or e-mail solicitation; instead,
they are charging for: a certification program, a directory of
mystery shopping companies, or a guarantee of a mystery shopping
- 2. You receive a solicitation
or e-mail from a sender you do not know. Usually e-mails come
from a free account, like yahoo or hotmail.
- 3. The e-mail or mail contains
an offer for a job that you did not apply for.
- 4. The work begins before
a formal job offer has been made: The quality of your work will
determine whether you get the job.
- 5. An up-front monetary investment
- 6. You must open a new bank
account through a specific bank. This is presented as a requirement
to do the job.
- 7. Your bank account or credit
card information is needed to participate.
- 8. Commission or pay is deducted
from a check they send you, which is probably counterfeit. For
example: They send you a check for $5,000, and then tell you
to reserve $100 as your commission and use the remaining $4,900
according to instruction.
- 9. There are instructions
to wire money or transfer funds. Most likely, internationally.
- 10. They falsely advertise
affiliation with BBB; however, the business is not a BBB Accredited
6. Google work-from-home
scams - Countless Web sites claim "you can learn how
to make money from home using Google or Twitter." Schemers
lure in consumers-who think they're getting a job with Google
or Twitter-with misleading trial offers, starter kits and software.
7. Phishing emails/H1N1
spam - Fake Web sites and phishing or spam e-mails promising
to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus were rampant in 2009.
8. Weight loss pill free
trial offers - Online ads for acai berry or resveratrol weight
loss pills use false endorsements from trusted national news
organizations, Oprah, Rachel Ray or Doctor Oz in order to sell
a "free product trial" with a small shipping charge;
allegedly, credit cards are automatically charged month after
month, without permission.
9. Memorabilia - With
the election of the first African American President and the
death of Michael Jackson, 2009 provided great opportunities for
scammers to sell memorabilia, collectibles and commemorative
items at inflated prices, which may have only sentimental value.
10. Friend/family in distress
Also known as the "Grandparent Scam," the
victim receives a call or online message from a "friend"
or "family member" claiming to be stuck in an emergency,
car accident or false arrest. The victim wires the money, discovering
later it was a scam artist impersonating a friend or relative.
Source of News:
E-mail your news &
photos to email@example.com
Better Business Bureau
Sbout your BBB serving Alaska,
Oregon and Western Washington:
Your Better Business Bureau is a not-for-profit organization
funded by Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses. The BBB's
mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. For
more information about the services and products provided by
your BBB, call 206-431-2222 or 253-830-2924 in Washington, 503-212-3022
in Oregon, 907-562-0704 in Alaska, or visit our Web site at www.bbb.org.
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