BBB Hot Topics: January 2012

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By Better Business Bureau

  Check out the latest scams and bad business inBBB’s January 2012 Hot Topics!

1. BBB’s Top Scams of 2011 includes the BBB phishing scam. Hundreds of thousands of people received emails that looked like an official notice from BBB about a complaint. Instructions in the email told the recipient to click on a link or open an attachment. If the recipient did either, a malicious virus was launched on their computer. BBB continues to work with law enforcement to track down the source of the emails. For a complete list of Top Scams of 2011, go to www.bbb.org.

2. Be Consumer-Savvy in 2012! BBB suggests you should resolve to: Beware of job offers to make easy money; Always read the fine print – especially on free trial offers; Keep your computer safe; Never wire money to someone you don’t know; and check out businesses before you buy at www.bbb.org.

3. Lose weight – Not Money! If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and join a gym, consider these tips: Understand the gym’s introductory offers; Ask if the membership will renew automatically; Ask how you can get out of the contract; Find out what happens if the company goes out of business; Get everything in writing; and check out the business at www.bbb.org.

4. Seeking a new canine companion for the New Year? Puppy Scams hook people with offers of free puppies, collect money for bogus fees, like shipping or ‘ownership transfer,’ and never deliver the advertised puppies or dogs. Beware of ads in the paper or on websites that have these “too good to be true” offers!

5. Tired of unwanted calls? Sign up for the Do Not Call List in 2012! By registering, telemarketers have 31 days to comply and stop calling you. If they continue, they could be fined thousands of dollars. Calls from political organizations, charities (although you can ask a third-party telemarketer to stop calling you on a charity’s behalf), telephone surveyors, and companies you have an established business relationship with are exempt. To register, call 1-888-382-1222 or go to donotcall.gov.

6. Winterize Your Home to save money in 2012. Have your furnace and chimney inspected; Gutters and ridge vents need to be cleaned; Caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors should be checked; Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; and be sure you have a winter storm emergency kit in case the electric should go out.

7. BBB’s good name is being used in a “Job Opportunity” Scam on Craigslist! BBB has nothing to do with a job opportunity on the website. Beware of any emails you may receive about this job opportunity. The email could contain a malicious virus.

8.  Threatening Online Scam – If you receive an email that says someone close to you wants you dead, delete it. The scam email states the person behind it has been hired to kill you. The email is used to intimidate the recipient into giving personal information. The sender asks for a credit card or bank account number so that you won’t be killed!

9.  Don’t Cruise Your Way into a Vacation Scam! Be cautious of unsolicited mail with offers of free or discounted cruises! Be sure to read the fine print before you sign up. Don’t fall for high-pressure sales. Contact the cruise line directly. Pay with a credit card for your best protection against a dishonest seller. Always check out the business first at www.bbb.org.

10. Choose a Tax Preparer wisely! Before you hire a tax professional, find out what the service fees are before the return is prepared. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of your refund. Only use a tax preparer that signs your tax return and provides you with a copy for your records. Avoid anyone who asks you to sign a blank tax form. You are ultimately responsible for your tax return! Find a tax preparer at www.bbb.org.