Understanding How They Work Can Protect You From Becoming a Victim
Wallingford, CT – January 30, 2014 – Criminals’ methods continue to evolve, but their goal remains the same: to deceive or frighten you into handing over money or personal information.
BBB’s Top Ten Scams are ranked based on number of specific inquiries made by consumers, and provide insight on the deceptive and sometimes illegal business practices most common in 2013.
The complete list of Top Ten Scams in 2013 includes:
Advance Fee Brokers - These often appear to be very professional operations with attractive websites and advertisements. However, it is illegal for a business to charge a fee prior to providing a loan. Typically, after wiring money to the scammer, the victim never receives the loan. These “lenders” will use fake physical addresses or the addresses of real companies.
Work-At-Home Schemes - Legitimate telecommuting jobs do exist for professionals and consultants, however, many work-from-home opportunities are scams. The promise of convenient work hours always attracts attention, however, consumers should always be on guard when they would be required to send money in advance for products or training materials. Do not purchase services or products from a firm that’s reluctant to answer your questions and be cautious of any company that offers an exceptionally high salary requiring few skills and little work. Check offers out thoroughly at www.bbb.org
Credit Repair Services with Advance Fees - Consumers with bad credit ratings are particularly vulnerable to this scam. Individuals can do for little or no cost everything a credit-repair operation offers. Credit repair operations are prohibited by law from asking for money up front and they cannot automatically remove legitimate negative reports from your credit history.
Foreign Lotteries - Any lottery from a foreign country is illegal in the United States. Stating a person can win or is a winner already provides a strong incentive to send money to cover “fees” and “taxes.” Never send money to obtain lottery winnings. Scammers using fictitious addresses will request you send money by wire transfer or other unsecured payment method, take the cash and never provide any winnings because there are no winners. In addition, you cannot win a lottery if you didn’t enter it.
Office Supplies - Sale by Deceptive Telemarketing - This scam features fake invoices for office supplies being sent to a business. This relatively low amount makes it easier for personnel to quickly sign-off on the expense and feel it is not worth their time to check the invoice’s validity, which might otherwise be done if it was for a larger amount.
Prize Promotions - There are several variations of this scam, but most include some element that requires people who are identified as “winners” to provide money or some type of personal information, such as a credit card or social security number, to verify their identity. In the end, no prize is awarded and the personal information is then used to withdraw a victim’s money from their accounts, or for identity theft.
Paving, Painting & Home Improvement by Traveling Workers - Never pay upfront to a traveling contractor who “just happens to be in the neighborhood,” is doing work nearby, or has extra materials and a lowball estimate. The technique to get your money often requires you to pay for additional materials. Once you pay the contractor, he disappears with the money and no work is ever done. Having access to your property also provide an opportunity for these people to check what valuables you may have for a future burglary or ID theft.
Pyramid Companies - Pyramid schemes within companies are fraudulent because returns to investors are paid from personal money or the money paid by the newest investors, rather than from any actual profit earned by an individual or the organization running the operation. These scams collapse because payouts exceed investments, or because authorities prosecute the organizers for the sale of unregistered securities. Often the con artists simply disappear with whatever funds are sent to them.
Sweepstakes - If you don’t remember entering a sweepstakes, be very suspicious about being declared a winner. If the prize provider wants you to send money or give your social security number to receive your prize, take no action. If you send money you will likely never receive a prize or you will get a prize of lesser value than the money you’ve sent.
Debt Relief Services (Non-Compliant with FTC rule) - The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established rules for debt relief services. These are businesses that promise to renegotiate, settle or alter the terms of payment for an unsecured debt. The FTC rules govern disclosures and representations that debt relief services can make and does not allow these services to ask for advance fees. There are legitimate debt relief companies that comply with the FTC regulations and Better Business Bureau identifies the non-compliant companies as scams.