Advice from the BBB

Here is a little clip from a recent BBB newsletter.

The BBB Absolute ‘No’ for December
Every month, the BBB informs the public of an absolute ‘no,’ a fraudulent scheme or offer they should never consider or take part in under any circumstance. The absolute no for December involves online deals that seem too good to be true. In late November, the BBB began receiving complaints against OnSaleFurnitureDepot, an online furniture company which claimed to be operating out of an apartment in Fargo, North Dakota. Consumers reported that the company was offering furniture and swing-sets at heavily discounted prices, but then failed to deliver once payment was received. Also, customers were told they needed to pay for their merchandise Green Dot MoneyPak cards (essentially a money transfer service). Unfortunately, this left customers without any recourse to get their money back. For more information on this situation and BBB tips for shopping safely online, click here.
Moments Like This
This last June, the BBB began receiving complaints against Moments Like This, a bridal service company in Minneapolis. Complaints were from disappointed wedding parties who reported that on their wedding day they either hadn’t received linens or chair covers they had paid for or only received parts of their order. The BBB immediately began forwarding the complaints to the business owner, and by late June had updated the company’s report to indicate there was a pattern of a problem and customers considering doing business with the company should be aware of that. As of December 16th, the BBB had processed 22 complaints against the company. Eleven of those complaints were closed unresolved and another seven were closed with no response received from the company.

Fraud Fighter

I attended a Fraud Fighters Forum in Minnesota a few months ago, and I am pleased to announce that the event will be broadcast on television.

Fraud Fighters Program to Air on Minnesota Channel
Tune in for an informational program about how to prevent, spot and report fraud, brought to you by AARP and the Better Business Bureau.  Produced by Twin Cities Public Television, the hour-long program provides useful information from law enforcement agencies and experts and answers consumers’ questions in a panel discussion moderated by Minnesota Public Radio’s Chris Farrell.
The broadcast will occur on the statewide MN Channel.  It is seen statewide via all six Minnesota public television stations, over the air free for viewers, as well as on cable services.
Sunday, August 22, 2010 at 8:00 PM
Monday, August 23, 2010 at 2:00 AM
Monday, August 23, 2010 at 8:00 AM
Monday, August 23, 2010 at 2:00 PM
In the Minneapolis/St. Paul Area, the show will air on Twin Cities Public Television www.tpt.org.  Look for “tptMN
Broadcast:   Channel 2-2
Cable:   Comcast channel 202 in Minneapolis and channel 243 in St. Paul; Mediacom channel 102; Charter channel 396
TPT Life
This program will also be carried on the new tptLIFE channel which is primarily devoted to how-to and lifestyle programs and also features repeats of popular prime-time programs from tpt2.
The program will air on Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 12:00 PM.

Warning from the BBB

The BBB would like to warn people about scammers using TTY telephone services. TTY is a telephone service that allows people with hearing or speech disabilities to place and receive phone calls.

A recent article about this scam can be found at http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/dpp/news/bbb-warns-business-of-phone-scam-june-13-2010

These scams work in the same way as the IP relay scams that we have reported on at Scam Victims United for several years now.

Fraud Fighting Forum

AARP and the BBB is holding a Fraud Fighters Forum on April 20th in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

You can read the details of the event here.

Attorney General Lori Swanson will be there, along with other top officials, to show you how to spot and stop fraud.

Hear about the crimes that affect Minnesotans and what members of the law enforcement are doing to combat criminal activity. Experts will cover the topics of:

Financial schemes
Investment fraud
Health care fraud
Identity theft

With the right information, you can avoid becoming a victim of fraud

BBB Top 10 Scams for 2010

From http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/dpp/news/bbb-stats-pedict-scams-january-12-2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The recession has thousands of people out of work, but the scam artists are hard at work. In year ahead, the Better Business Bureau says they are likely to come at you from every angle.

No one knows that better than the Bureau’s Dan Hendrickson.

“The people that are out there trying to get information dishonestly are very persistent, said Hendrickson. “And they will keep on coming at you and that’s way you always have to be on guard.”

The Better Business Bureau has looked at the past to try and predict what will happen in the future, in this case the next year. For 2010, it has put together its own Top Ten List of scams:

1. Winter Olympics Scams. This year’s Olympic Games are fairly close by in Vancouver, British Columbia. A little known fact is that U.S. citizens can buy event tickets only through http://www.cosport.com . Buy your tickets anywhere else, and the BBB says you risk losing your money. It also advises consumers to be aware of travel packages that don’t provide accommodations.

2. Census Scams. At its core the government Census is about counting people. For the crook it’s about counting something else. The BBB fears that under the guise of collecting data, scammers will try to trick people into giving out banking and other personal information. The Census WILL NOT contact you by email, and if a Census worker comes to your door, you have the right to ask for their credentials proving they work for the Census.

3. Green Remodeling Offers. President Obama and Congress are giving away tax credits for qualified remodeling projects that reduce energy consumption. When working with a contractor, homeowners should have a clear understanding of what makes a product or appliance green and if it benefits them. Also, check the credentials of the contractor with the Better Business Bureau or the state licensing agencies.

4. Job Scams. In this recession, scammers will try to rope people into fraudulent re-shipping schemes or offer jobs in exchange for an upfront payment.

5. Pre-Acquired Account Marketing Offers. It’s a high-brow term for a low-brow attempt to take your money. It happens when you buy something on line and you suddenly get a pop-up offering discounts to the store from which you just made a purchase. By clicking on these offers to save, customers unknowingly sign up for memberships which result in a monthly bill.

6. IRS Related Scams. These are typically by email. The message indicates it’s from the IRS asking for financial information. The IRS reminds taxpayers that it never discusses tax account information by email.

7. Wireless Security Breaches. Which business person or college student hasn’t fired up their laptop and gone online at a coffee shop? Yes, they are great places to hang out, but everything you transmit is viewable on an unsecured network.

8. Fake Online Classified Ads or Auction Sales. Think Craigslist. It’s a great site, but also a place where crooks can post fake ads to scam you out of your money. The BBB advises that if you buy from a online classified ad or auction site that you consider only making payment through third party transaction companies such as PayPal.

9. Gift Card Scams. The BBB says there are actually online sites where people can buy gift cards at reduced prices. Later they discover that the cards carry little to no value.

10. Smishing Scams. This works like Phishing on your computer, except Smishing takes place on your cell phone. It happens when a text message is sent to your phone indicating your bank or credit card accounts have been frozen and you need to call a certain number to rectify the accounts. The scammer is looking to collect your banking information. This actually happened in December of 2008 to many customers of a major Twin Cities bank.

The best advice from the Better Business Bureau is to be aware.

“We hear so many times people saying, ‘Well it sounded like such a good deal, or such a good offer, I had to do it,’” said Hendrickson. “And, you know we understand that. But the reality is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”