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Check out the latest scams and bad business in BBB's February 2013 Hot Topics!
1. IRS Scam: Tax payers are receiving calls from scam artists who say they are with the IRS. They claim a mistake was made on their taxes and the IRS owes them $2000. The catch, in order to receive the money, the tax payer must provide bank account information.
2. Beware of letters that appear to be from Publishers Clearing House and claim you have won a grand prize drawing of $2 million dollars. The letter instructs consumers to contact PCH for further instructions on how to claim their prize. Some letters also include a check. The consumer is instructed to cash the check and wire a portion to PCH to pay for fees before they can receive the winnings. The check is fake. Others are asked to pay by Green Dot Money Pak.
3. Consumers are receiving mailings indicating that they have won 2 round-trip tickets from US Airlines. Another similar letter indicates that one can redeem a travel voucher for 2 round-trip, airline tickets. This letter also contains what appears to be a check but says "Must Be Redeemed for travel certificate," near the bottom. No such company exists.
4. Scam artists are calling consumers, claiming to be issuing new Medicare or Social Security Cards. New cards are not being issued. This is an attempt to get your banking account or credit card information.
5. Looking for love online? Beware of online dating scams! Scammers are stealing pictures from real soldiers and posting them online, stringing victims along before asking for money. The scammers often ask for money to “come see the victim.”
6. Sending flowers, candy, or gifts for Valentine’s Day? Do your homework first! Be sure it’s a company you can trust. When buying flowers, review the description of the flower arrangement; allow time for shipping; get a receipt with all information, including where the arrangement will be delivered; and check out the company at bbb.org;
7. Beware of fake e-cards this Valentine’s Day! If you receive an ecard from an “unknown friend,” you may want to delete it. It could be infected with a virus.
8. Loozfon and FinFisher are malware that attack Android operating systems for mobile devices. Loozfon is advertised through work-at-home scam sites; after you upload it to your device it steals contact details from your phone’s address book. FinFisher is transmitted to a Smartphone when you visit a specific web link or open a text message that is masqueraded as a system update. It allows someone to control your phone.
9. Quicken Loans Scam: Scam artists are pretending to be the legitimate company, Quicken Loans. The scammers contact a consumer, by phone or email, saying they may be able to help them with a loan. Once approved, they ask for upfront fees for the loan.
10. Beware of flooded cars! Widespread flooding (including Hurricane Sandy) this winter dumped flooded cars on the market. While they look good, they are a threat to victims. If you’re buying a car, especially if it is being offered at a bargain price, be sure it’s not flood-damaged. Check the Vehicle Identification Number with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, inspect the vehicle carefully, test drive the car, and get a trusted mechanic’s opinion.
Common Passwords: Don’t use them! A reminder to pick passwords a scam artist may not be able to hack! The most popular 2012 passwords on the web were recently released. Ranking was based on password information from compromised accounts posted by hackers online. Here are the top 10: password, 123456, 12345678, Abc123, qwerty, monkey, letmein, dragon, 111111, and baseball.