Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Top 10 Scams of 2010

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reflects on 2010’s most prevalent local marketplace problems. Here is its annual “Top 10” list of scams:

1: Roofing scams
Again in the year 2010, we saw roofers or people acting as roofers take down payments and never start work or in other cases, never finish work that was started. There were many other problems in the industry as complaints to the BBB against roofers rose over 400% in 2010 compared to 2009.
2: Phony debt collectors
The BBB received many calls from consumers in 2010 stating they were being harassed about debts they did not owe or already paid. Many of the people behind these calls were criminals pretending to represent collection agencies. This was seen in many other regions of the nation as well.
3: Free trial offers
Companies that offer “free” trials continue to rack up complaints for charging for the free trial and not clearly disclosing the terms and conditions behind the offer. Be very diligent before signing up for such offers.
4: Grandparent scam
The grandparent scam continues to claim victims. Beware of calls from scammers pretending to be a grandkid in distress that needs money wired to them to get them out of jail or flown back home. This was a very common scam in our area and across the nation.
5: 876 Jamaican sweepstakes scam
Many inquirers contacted the BBB about calls coming from a Jamaican area code: 876, offering prize money. Some of these callers even pretended to be representatives of the BBB. They instructed people to wire a certain amount of money in order to receive prize money. Sweepstakes scams are extremely common and take on many forms. Never, ever wire money to someone you don’t know and trust.
6: Mail fraud
Mail fraud continues to be a main topic of inquiry calls into the BBB. These are typically sweepstakes offers or job offers that contain fake checks and instructions to wire transfer a certain amount of funds in order to receive fictitious funds.
7: Door-to-door scams
Scams in the form of door-to-door solicitations continue to be a problem in the metro area. Beware of shady contractors, alarm sales, magazine sales and anyone who uses high pressure. Always say, “I’ll take your information and contact you if I’m interested.” Then use that information to check them out with the BBB.
8: Craigslist scams
Craigslist continues to be saturated with scammers. Employment scams and real estate rental scams were prevalent in 2010. Be very careful when making transactions on Craigslist and always read their fraud page as it is often updated with the latest scams.
9: Debt relief scams
Unscrupulous companies and scammers wreaked havoc on those suffering in a down economy by offering debt relief or debt elimination, charging high up-front fees and little or no results. Hopefully the FTC’s recent laws banning upfront fees before promises are met will break down this scam in the coming years.
10: Advance fee loans
Offers for loans in exchange for an advance fee continued to be an issue in 2010. Many are just scammers hiding behind Web sites that use fraudulent Colorado addresses and 800 numbers, (many of which are tracing back to Canada). Consumers are told they need to provide a large fee before the loan will be deposited into their bank account. Once the consumer sends this money, (usually via wire transfer), they never get their loan and can’t get a hold of the “company”. Avoid any such transaction.

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