BBB Hot Topics: March 2011

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By Better Business Bureau

  A list of hot topics posted by the Better Business Bureau for the month of March. For more information visit www.bbb.org.


1.      National Consumer Protection Week is March 6 - 12. NCPW is a national effort to educate the public on how to use money wisely. BBB advises, to become a savvy consumer, one should always read the fine print,  get everything in writing, shred sensitive documents, monitor financial accounts closely, never wire money to an unknown person, and check out businesses with the BBB at www.bbb.org.


2.     Publishers Clearinghouse Scam - A local consumer received a phone call, telling him he won $500,000 from Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. He was told before he could get the winnings, he would have to pay a luxury tax. The man wired a total of $13,500 via Western Union. This is a scam! NEVER wire money to unknown persons.


3.     Craigslist/Ebay Motors Scam - A local consumer found a bobcat for sale on Craigslist. After inquiring on the equipment, the seller sent the buyer to what appeared to be Ebay Motors to purchase it. The buyer was told the bobcat was ready to ship, and money should be wired for shipping purposes. The man wired $1400 and never received the bobcat. NEVER wire money to unknown persons!


4.     Automatic Profit System claims to be the Internet’s “#1 Work at Home Opportunity.” The company promises $1000 a month working at home. A local consumer paid the company $98.00 to get started, then the company requested $198.00 more. The company has an “F” rating with the BBB.


5.     Turbo Tax Scam - Users of the tax software, Turbo Tax get an email asking them to download updates, to comply with IRS requirements. Problem is, the email isn’t actually from Turbo Tax. The link takes them to a bogus site where they’re asked to download the updates. The download is a virus that wrecks computer security. In another scam, the phony site asks for personal information -- a phishing scam. Turbo Tax never solicits personal information by email.


6.     Citizens Aid Government Agency claims to be affiliated with the U.S. Department of Treasury and claims to provide government grants to pay off credit card and other debts that a consumer might have. Consumers are asked to fill out an application, providing personal information, including account numbers, social security numbers, etc. and to pay a fee of 13.8% of the total amount of the grant they are awarded. This appears to be a government grant scam.


7.     Scholarship Scams - Don’t pay for Free Advice on scholarships for college. Every year, BBB receives complaints from parents who paid money up front to a company that promised to find scholarships and grants for their child but didn’t deliver. One such company, Edifi-College Financial Aid, which has been known to send invitations to seminars in the local area, has an “F” rating with BBB.


8.     Planning a Spring Break Escape? Remember, if it sounds “too good to be true, it probably is.” Vacation packages presented for one low price often involve hidden taxes or fees. When booking a package, call th individual providers to be sure they all participate in the deal. Also, get all vacation details in writing, including cancellation policies. And, use a credit card to book the travel.


9.     Prom season is right around the corner! Before hiring a Limousine service, do your homework! Check references, ask for proof of insurance, get everything in writing, inquire about the company’s cancellation policy and get a copy in writing, and check out the company with BBB at www.bbb.org.


10.   Don’t get scammed Buying Tickets Online! With March Madness and the KY Derby right around the corner, scam artists are sure to take advantage of ticket seekers. Remember, if a ticket price sounds “too good to be true,” it probably is. Also, never wire money to buy tickets. If they end up fake, you have no recourse. Do your research - check out the company with BBB at www.bbb.org.