BBB Hot Topics: November 2010

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By The Staff

BBB Hot Topics: November 2010


1.      Better Business Bureau email scam - An email from Better.Business.Bureau@gala.net that says, “MAKE MONEY BY SIMPLY DRIVING YOUR CAR,” is not from the BBB. The email claims BBB will pay you $200 a week to rent advertising space on your car if you pay $400 up front, then you are asked for personal information including address, phone number, and bank account numbers. If you receive this email, don’t click on any links or open attachments, and never give out your personal information.

2.     BBB warns consumers to be wary of a McDonald’s email scam. An entity calling itself “McDonald’s” is sending fraudulent emails promising consumers $80 if they fill out a customer service satisfaction survey. Once consumers fill out the survey, they are directed to a web site that requests personal information, such as date of birth, social security number, and credit card information. McDonald’s Corp. does not endorse this program.

3.     A local consumer contacted the BBB saying she received a postcard from ID Shield 360, an identity theft protection and prevention company, invoicing her for services that she had not ordered. She also received a bill from American Patriot Savings, a company sharing the same address as ID Shield 360, also charging her for services she had not ordered. This company has a “C-” rating with the BBB.

4.     The BBB has received complaints against Vacations & Resorts, a company based in Georgia. Consumers claim the company expresses interest in purchasing their timeshare properties, asks for an upfront fee, and doesn’t deliver on promises once the money has been paid. The company has an “F” rating with the BBB for failing to respond to numerous complaints.

5.     The United States Postal Service is warning consumers to be wary of scammers calling about sweepstakes winnings, often from trusted charities like Make-A-Wish Foundation. Scammers ask victims to pay taxes or insurance on the winnings in advance. USPS discovered the victims were selected by collecting returned sweepstakes mailers with shaky handwriting; possibly indicating that the potential victim was elderly.

6.     ATM skimming is a growing problem and the BBB recommends consumers take steps to protect themselves from becoming victims. When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to prevent any cameras from catching your digits. False keypads placed over the real keypad are also a way scammers get PIN numbers so if the keypad looks different, move on. Avoid using ATMs in poorly lit or low traffic areas. Keep an eye on your statements and report fraud immediately.

7.     ‘Tis the season for online holiday scams - BBB warns consumers to be wary of purchasing the “must have” toys or gadgets on sites like Craigslist where sellers might take the money and run. Never wire money and always conduct the transaction in person. Be careful of email phishing scams that may come through holiday e-cards by avoiding clicking on links or opening attachments from unfamiliar email addresses.

8.     BBB offers these tips on holiday shopping: Set a budget and keep it; compare prices; always check a store’s return or exchange policy before you buy; if shopping online or through a catalog, allow for plenty of time for delivery; keep all receipts; and be mindful of your personal belongings. Don’t carry so many items that you lose track of your purse or wallet. For more tips on holiday shopping, check out www.louisville.bbb.org.

9.     How you give is just as important as what you give this holiday season. BBB recommends giving items like canned goods, coats, or toys. Give when you shop by donating to charities that have partnered with businesses for a promotion during the holiday season. Give online by using your credit or debit card to donate directly to the charity. Give your time to help support a worthy cause. Always review charity evaluations with the BBB before giving at www.louisville.bbb.org/charity.

10.   The BBB warns consumers to carefully evaluate advertising for winterizing services and energy-saving products. Be wary of devices, gadgets, and energy-saving products that promise drastic reductions in home heating costs or extreme energy savings. Check with the BBB before hiring contractors offering furnaces, windows, roofing, or other heat-saving home improvement projects.