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BBB Hot Topics: April 2014

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By Better Business Bureau

 Check out the latest scams and bad business in BBB’s April 2014 Hot Topics!

1.    You may receive an email saying an Amazon Credit is being applied to your account because of an antitrust settlement. A class action lawsuit against the five largest book publishers in the U.S. for e-book pricing led to the settlement. If you bought a Kindle book from any of the five publishers between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012, the credit will appear in your Amazon account. Amazon is distributing the refunds, but is not a party to the lawsuits. Scams could follow. BBB suggests you log directly into your Amazon account to see if you received a credit.

2.    Netflix subscribers receive an email that links them to a Fake Netflix Webpage. Users enter their account information, and the website claims the user’s account has been suspended. A fake phone number is provided and a “representative” asks the user to download Netflix support software, which installs remote login software on the user’s computer. Then, all personal information is stolen.

3.    Google Docs Scam: If you receive an email with the subject “Documents,” and it directs you to a webpage that looks like a Google Drive sign-in page, do not enter your information. It could be a phishing scam. Never click on unknown links or open emails from unknown senders.

4.    A local resident received a call from someone who said they were with the United States Postal Service, and they had a check for them for $1.5 million from Publishers Clearing House. The scammer wanted to make arrangements to deliver the package, but our consumer was smart – knowing this was a scam. The scammer, calling from Kingston, Jamaica, wanted personal information.

5.    Beware of Fake Derby Tickets! No doubt, some will pop up on sites like Craigslist. People can lose thousands of dollars on fake tickets. A major red flag: Scam artists often ask ticket seekers to send money via Western Union. NEVER wire money to someone you don’t know!

6.    Spring break is a popular time for the Grandparent Scam. Scam artists call, claiming your “grandchild” has been in an accident or is in trouble with the law. Money must be wired immediately. The scammer even knows family details, by getting information from social media, newspapers, obits, etc. Make sure there is truth to the story BEFORE you send any money. Call your grandchild directly.

7.    Receive a phone call, postcard, or travel voucher offering a “Free Vacation?” Don’t fall for it! The lucky “winner” is asked to provide a credit card number to pay a deposit or “fee.” There are several scenarios that result in a bad vacation, even though it is “free,” including a resort that’s miles from the ocean or tacked on fees scammers didn’t tell you about. Or, in another scheme, the scammers get you to join an expensive vacation club.

8.    Scammers write phony ads for Vacation Rental Properties. Through email or phone, a deal is struck and you are asked to complete an application and to pay upfront, usually via wire service. The application serves to get personal information for identity theft, and if you pay in advance, you later find out the property does not really exist and you are out the money. Contact a legitimate real estate or travel agent, and never wire money to someone you do not know

9.    Door-to-Door Scams start when the weather gets warmer. If someone knocks on your door trying to sell a product or service, or asks for a donation for a charity, do your homework first. Legitimate companies or charities will not pressure you into making an on-the-spot decision. Check out the company or charity first with the BBB at www.bbb.org.

10.  Doing Home Improvements this spring? Beware of contractors that go door-to-door offering “too-good-to-be-true” prices. Make sure you hire a contractor you can trust. Get several estimates, get everything in writing, and check out the contractor’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.

11.   Nominate a business or non-profit organization for the BBB Torch Awards! Share a great customer service story or how an organization helped you! To submit a nomination, contact the BBB at 1-800-388-2222.