Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina announces
its list of the most prevalent fraud schemes of 2011:
Top Job Scam
BBB sees lots of secret shopper schemes, work-from-home scams
and other phony job offers, but the worst job-related scam can dash your hopes and
steal your identity. In this scam, e-mails, Web sites and online applications
all look very professional, and the candidate even participates in a phone
interview before receiving a job offer. In order to start the job, the
candidate has to fill out a credit report or provide bank information for
direct deposit of their paychecks. The online forms are nothing more than a way
to capture sensitive personal data, such as Social Security and bank account
Top Sweepstakes and
and lottery scams come in a variety of forms, but the bottom line almost always
is that the consumer has won a large sum of money and, in order to claim it, they
have to pay a fee. This year’s top sweepstakes scam was undoubtedly the e-mail
claiming to be from Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, announcing that the
recipient was the winner of $1 million from the popular social networking site.
These kinds of scams often use celebrities to make their offer seem more
genuine. If you are not sure, do not click on any links or reply to the e-mail,
but instead contact the company directly.
Top Social Media
tons of ways to use social media for scams, but one this year stands out
because it appears to be coming from a friend. Viral videos claiming to show
everything from footage of Osama bin Laden’s death to the latest celebrity pranks
have shown up on social media sites, often looking as if they have been shared
by a friend. When consumers click on the link, they are prompted to upgrade their
flash player, but the file they end up downloading contains a worm that logs
into their social media account, sends similar messages to their friends, and
searches for personal data.
Top Home Improvement
near the top of BBB complaint data
are home improvement contractors who often leave homes worse than they found them.
Itinerant contractors move around, keeping a step ahead of the law. The worst
are those who move in after a natural disaster, taking advantage of desperate
homeowners who need immediate help and may not be as suspicious as they would
be under normal circumstances.
Top Check Cashing Scam
legitimate companies, Craig’s List and Western Union,
are used for an inordinate amount of check cashing scams. In this scam, the
scammer contacts a seller on Craig’s List claiming they would like to make a
purchase. They send the consumer a check for more than the amount they owe, and
ask them to deposit it into their bank account and then send them the
difference via Western Union. A deposited
check takes a couple of days to clear and be returned, whereas wired money from
the consumer is gone instantly.
Top Phishing Scam
is when a consumer receives a suspicious e-mail or phone call that is looking
to obtain personal information. It is almost impossible to avoid them if you
have a telephone or an e-mail account. The most pernicious phishing scam this
year disguised itself as official communication from the National Automated
Clearing House Association, which facilitates the secure transfer of billions
of electronic transactions every year. The e-mail claims a transaction did not
go through, with hopes that the consumer will react quickly and click on the
link. The link will take the consumer to a fake banking site, where it will ask
the consumer to verify their account information or it may download malware on
to the consumer’s computer.
Top Identity Theft
a multitude of ways to steal someone’s identity. This one has become so
prevalent that many hotels are posting warnings about it in their lobbies. In
this scam, the consumer receives a call in their hotel room in the middle of
the night. The caller claims to be the front desk clerk, saying their computer
has crashed and they need to get the consumer’s credit card number. Scam
artists are counting on consumers being too sleepy to catch on that the call is
not from the hotel at all, but from someone outside who knows the direct-dial
numbers for the guest rooms.
Top Financial Scam
challenging economic times, many people are looking for help getting out of
debt or hanging on to their home, and scam artists are taking advantage of this.
When the federal government announced or expanded several mortgage relief
programs last year, many sound-alike Web sites popped up to try to fool
consumers into parting with their money. Most ask for an upfront fee and almost
all leave you in more debt than when you started.
For additional information on scams, visit bbb.org.