BBB releases top 10 scam list
Posted: Monday, January 17, 2011 6:01 pm
The Better Business Bureau has released a list of the top 10 scams and rip-offs of 2010.
Job hunters and those struggling to make money and get out of debt were common targets of fraudsters, hackers and deceptive businesses in this tough economy, according to the Better Business Bureau.
“With the economy still on the mend, scammers had a field day targeting struggling families who were looking for work and trying to make ends meet,” BBB President Randy Hutchinson said.
Following (in no particular order) is the bureau’s list of top scams and rip-offs in 2010:
• Job Hunter Scams — Scams targeting job hunters vary and include attempts to gain access to personal information such as bank account or social security numbers and requirements to pay a fee in order to even be considered for the job.
• Debt Relief and Settlement Services — The bureau warned consumers in 2010 to seriously consider third-party assistance for getting out of debt.
These companies often require upfront fees and potentially leave the consumer drowning in even more debt.
• Work from Home Schemes — Some work from home schemes promise to teach the secrets to making money online, others claim you can make money assembling items at home or get paid to be a mystery shopper.
Some victims even found that their opportunity to work from home was a job to fence stolen goods. The end result is that instead of getting paid, you can end up losing hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars
• Timeshare Resellers — Complaints to the BBB about the timeshare industry — including deceptive resellers — increased by more than 40 percent according to 2010 estimates.
Timeshare owners desperate to get rid of their costly vacation property are being targeted by companies that claim they have an eager buyer. The company tells the seller they just have to pay up to several thousand dollars to cover fees. After paying the fees, the seller never hears from the company again.
• Not So “Free” Trial Offers — Misleading free trial offers online for diet supplements, penny auctions and money making schemes blanket the Internet.
The free trial offers seem no-risk but complainants state they were repeatedly billed every month and found it extremely difficult to cancel.
• Itinerant Home Repair/Roofers — Bureaus across the country received complaints from consumers who answered a knock from a door-to-door salesman or itinerant worker who eventually failed to deliver on promises to fix their roof or conduct other work to the home.
• Lottery/Sweepstakes Scams — The victim (often a senior citizen) receives a letter in the mail or phone call from someone pretending to be with Reader’s Digest, Publisher’s Clearing House or a phony foreign lottery.
The scammer claims that the victim has won millions but must first wire hundreds or even thousands of dollars back to the scammers to cover taxes or some other bogus fee.
The victim wires the money, but the prize never arrives.
• Identity Theft — There are any number of ways a person can become a victim of identity theft.
Through low-tech theft, phishing emails, vishing phone calls, smishing text messages, or even through no fault of your own as the result of a corporate data breach, millions fall victim to identity theft every year.
• Advance Fee Loan Scams — A perennial problem, advance fee loan scams prey on consumers and business owners who are struggling financially.
Victims are told they qualify for large loans but must pay upfront fees. The victim wires money to the scammers, but never receives the loan.
• Over-Payment Scams — Over-payment scams typically target small business owners, landlords or individuals with rooms to rent.
Scammers overpay the amount for the services or products and then ask the victim to wire the extra amount back to them or to another fraudulent entity.
Ultimately though, the check is forged and the victim is out the money wired back to the scammers.
Consumers or small business owners victimized by a scam can contact the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org or by calling (901) 757-8627.
The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization that offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses.
The BBB was founded in 1912 and operates 125 bureaus across the United States and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than three million local and national businesses and charities.