BBB Hot Topics: January 2014

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By Better Business Bureau

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

1.    Local consumers are receiving phone calls from an individual claiming to be Lt. Burns from the Oldham County Sheriff’s Office. The person tells the consumer that they have an outstanding warrant for failing to appear for Federal Grand Jury. The caller tells the victim, to avoid arrest, to pay $500 dollars by going to a Walgreens or Rite Aid and loading money onto a Green Dot MoneyPak Card. Two local victims deposited $500, which was withdrawn from the card immediately. Calls were made from a disposable cell phone.

2.    Do not fall for a Utility Scam! Consumers are receiving phone calls from individuals claiming to represent different utility companies. The individuals demand an immediate payment, on “past-due” accounts, within a short time frame, by using a prepaid debit card. Consumers are also receiving phishing emails from various energy companies. Do not share any of your personal information!

3.    Be a Smart Consumer in 2014! Do your research on businesses and charities by going to www.bbb.org. Keep your computer safe by installing anti-virus software. Get everything in writing. Do not just take someone’s word for it. Never wire money to someone you do not know. Last, protect yourself from scam artists by limiting the information you share on social media pages.

4.    Is your New Year’s resolution to join a Health Club? Before you sign on the dotted line, check on cleanliness, adequacy of space, and other factors that are important to you. Also, consider your budget. Ask the club about enrollment fees and ongoing monthly costs. Find out if there is a contract, and what the fee is if you cancel it. Last, check out the business at www.bbb.org

5.    Purchasing Athletic Equipment? Do not believe all of the claims you see! Beware of the latest trend and avoid products that claim to focus on one certain area. Don’t be fooled by fit models in advertisements. Read the fine print. Ask about cancellation fees. And, only buy what you will use!

6.    It’s tax time! 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.

7.    Beware of Tax Refund Scams! Scam artists call tax payers, indicating they owe the  IR, or the IRS owes them! The scammer asks for a bank account number to deposit or take out funds. This is NOT the IRS. The IRS typically contacts tax payers by mail.

8.    Check your Credit Report for FREE at www.annualcreditreport.com! You can check your credit report, up to three times annually, once from each of the credit reporting agencies. Check all information to make sure it is correct and that no one stole your identity!

9.    Some Mobile Apps may share your information! Before you download an app, research the company and app, read the full privacy policy, and opt out of location sharing if you can. Make sure you often check all privacy settings on your phone and keep them set as “high,” update your apps when a new version comes out, and delete apps you no longer use.

10.  Don’t fall for a Job Scam on LinkedIn. Scammers create fake profiles disguising themselves as recruiters and send messages that contain a link to gather personal information. The website they link to may look legitimate but often asks for personal or financial information. The information is then used to steal your identity, access bank account information, or install malware on your computer. Legitimate recruiters will not ask for your banking information.