News

Better Business Bureau names top scams, rip-of fs of 2009

AUSTIN–As 2010 is fast a pp r oaching, the B ett er Bus i - ness Bureau (BBB) is taking a

l o ok back at t he top 10 sc a ms

of 2009. W it h over 17,000 com -

pla i nt s re cei ved this ye a r, BBB

serving Central, Coastal and Sou th west Texas r em i nd s con -

sumers of common schemes to

look out for.

Weight Loss Pi Trial Offers –Ad

a ls of ac ai or resver atrol weig ht

loss pills appear on many Web

site s includ ing some re sp ec te d

national news organizations.

The market ing campa ign s often

falsely claim endorsements by

O prah, Rachel Ray and Doctor

Oz. Thousands of consumers have complained to BBB that

the free trial actually cost them

as much as hundred s of dolla r s,

month after month.

M ystery Shoppin sumers across the country hav e

been lured in by promises of

ext ra income f or m ystery shoppi

ng. Some indi viduals a re a sked

to shop at a few stores and repor t

on customer serv ice, while others

a re told to w ire mone y in order

to eva luate wire t ran sfer serv ic es

such as Wester n Union or MoneyGra

m. Victims report receiving

phony reimbursement checks

and losing hund reds, someti mes

thousands of dollars.

L ottery Scam–<

receive a letter in the mail from

Publisher’s Clearing House or

another s upposed lot tery clai m -

ing they have won millions of

dollars. The scheme is revealed

when victims are required to

w i re hund reds of doll ars back to

the scammers, allegedly to cover

taxes or other bogus fees.

Friend/ Fa mily

ress–< /B Scam, this scheme begins

with a phone ca ll or even a messa

ge on Faceb o ok from some one

posing as a friend or family

member who states that t hey are

outsides of the country and have

g o tten i nto troubl e. The vic tim

asked to wire thousands of dollars to pay for lawyer’s feesposting bail or a plane ticket

home.

Mo rtgage Forec Rescu e/Debt Assis

Many families are struggling

the current economy and

ammers are offering to help

save their homes from foreclosure

or help them ge t ou t of

credit c ard debt. Unfor tunately,

victims are paying hundreds of dollars up front for the assis-

e t hey desperately need but

ultimately ne ver recei ve.

Phish ing E- Mai ls/ H1N1

Spam–A perennial problemphishing emails

s and can take various forms

as appearing to be from a

business, a government agency or

even a friend. Whatever the setup,

t he goal of any phishing email

to trick victims into divulging

sitive financ ial information or

ct the victim’s computer with

v iruses and malware. In add ition

phishing email s , spa m ema ils

ng c ur es a nd preve nt ions

a gainst the spr ead of t he H1 N1

virus were particularly rampant

2009.

Job Hunter Sc unemployment rates in the U. S.

hit the double dig it s for the first

ime in more than 25 yearsfound a large pool of

out of work individuals to ta ke

adva ntage of. Scams targeting job

hu nters vary an d inc lude of fers

fin d employ ment for a large

up-front fee, as well as attempts to gain acc ess to personal information

such as bank account or

social security numbers in order

to be consider ed for t he “job.”

Memorabili a–< election of the first African American President and the

deat h of Mic hael Jackson, 20 09

prov ided great oppor tunities for

scammers to sell memorabilia

and collectibles commemorat ing

the events. Unfortunately, most

items were sold at inflated prices

and had only sentiment al value.

Robocalls– < /BOL

phone or having a phone number

on the do-not-call list did not

help thousands of people ac ross

the U.S. put a stop to harassing

automated telemarketing calls.

The so-called “robocalls” often

cla imed that the consumer’s auto

wa r rant y was about to ex pi re or

of fered he lp in redu cing cre dit

card interest rates. The high volume

of roboca lls v iolating federal

telemarketing laws prompted t he

F e de ral Tr a de C om mis sion to

increasingly restrict the practice

in 2009.

Goog le Work from Home

Scams–Coun

promis e opport unitie s to make

mone y from home using G oogle

or Twitter and offer a fre e tria l of learni ng material s, such as a

CD -R OM. Th e Web sit es of ten

name Google and Twitter and

include a logo. As a result, many

consumer complaints to BBB

state they thought they were getting

a job w it h Google or Twitter

when in, fac t, t hey were bein g lured into another misleading

fre e-trial of fer.

To check the reliability of a company, visit www.bbb.org. Contact BBB serving Central,

Coastal and Southwest Tex as at

512-445-4748.


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2009-12-17 digital edition



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