The Better Business Bureau is known for helping to protect consumers against shady companies. Additionally, the BBB shares information that can warn you about unethical practices, as well as outright scams.
There are always those who want to part you from your hard-earned money. 2011 was a big year for scams, and there are likely to be plenty more in 2012. The BBB recently released a list of the top 10 scams of 2011. Three of the worst offenders on the list are below:
While job scams come in all shapes and sizes, the BBB points out that the worst will take your information as well as trick you about a job. The worst in 2011 were the jobs that insist that you need a “credit check”, or that you need to fill out “direct deposit” information, in order to take the next step in getting the job.
You are sent to an online form to fill out. And, since it’s for a credit check or direct deposit on a job you think you are getting, it seems natural to fill in information about your Social Security number, date of birth, and bank account. Unfortunately, this is an easy way to steal your identity.
Identity Theft Scam
One of the most sinister identity theft scams is one being perpetrated on hotel guests. A scammer has access to direct-dial numbers to rooms (not hard to figure out in many hotels). You are called late at night by someone posing as the front-desk clerk. You are told that the computer system crashed, or that the clerk must have entered your credit card number into the computer wrong.
In any case, you are asked to repeat the credit card number and expiration date. Since you are sleepy, and in your pajamas, and don’t want to schlep down to the front desk, you comply. Next thing you know, your identity is stolen and your credit card is used. As always, never give out your credit card information to someone who calls you — no matter where you are.
BBB Phishing Scam
The top scam of the year, though, was the BBB phishing scam. The Better Business Bureau warns that it’s good name is being used for fraud. What happens is that someone posing as the BBB sends you an email claiming that a complaint has been made against your business. You follow the link, or you open the attachment, and you find your computer infected by a virus designed to steal your passwords. This is just another scam where a reputable organization — or even a government agency — is used to gain your trust.
Be suspicious of communications that seem designed to send you in a panic to take some sort of immediate action.
Watch Out for Scams
The BBB article lists a number of other scams, including financial scams, home improvement scams, phishing scams, sales scams, check cashing scams, sweepstakes scams, and social media scams. You should also be on the look out for investment scams that seem legitimate at first. It can be hard to spot scams, since they are designed to be clever and look like the “real thing”. However, you need to be on your toes, and skeptical of everything — especially if it seems too good to be true.