BBB Hot Topics: November 2011

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By Better Business Bureau

  Check out the latest scams and bad business in BBB’s November 2011 Hot Topics!

1.    BBB Sweepstakes Scam – If you receive a call from a “BBB Employee” who says you have won a $2.5 million dollar sweepstakes and a Mercedes Benz, hang up. This is a scam! The caller directs the “winner” to a fake website, www.better-businessbureau.org. BBB does not hand out sweepstakes winnings, and the official BBB website is www.bbb.org.

2.    Consumers across the country are reporting scam emails that appear to be from ticket company StubHub. The emails try to lure recipients into sharing credit card information by falsely alerting consumers they are being charged for expensive tickets. The email asks the ticket holder to login to their StubHub account to confirm the order. Thieves could then steal passwords and gain access to the account.

3.    Unclaimed Property Scam – Fake emails stating “millions of dollars in unclaimed money,” are making their rounds. The email appears to come from the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, and directs consumers to call an overseas telephone number to claim their money. Scammers are trying to get personal information. Go to http://www.unclaimed.org/ for more information.

4.    Funds Direct has an “F” rating with BBB. According to a pattern of serious allegations, the company debits consumer’s accounts for $30 without their permission. Some consumers report that due to the debits they were charged overdraft fees. The company responds to BBB complaints with a letter, stating refunds have been given for the withdrawals and overdraft fees. Some consumers report never receiving the promised refunds.

5.    If you are contacted by what appears to be a Debt Collector on Facebook, get their business contact information and verify that such a company exists before agreeing to provide them with any kind of personal or financial information. Chances are, it’s fraud.A consumer reported being contacted by a debt collector on FB about a bounced check. However, the consumer doesn't use checks.

6.    If you want a temporary Holiday Job, start your search NOW! Retail, shipping, restaurants, and catering companies are common sources for seasonal employment. You may want to work where you shop, as discounts are often available to employees. For the interview, dress professional, be familiar with the company’s brand and products, and be flexible. Expect to work long, inconvenient hours.

7.    Holiday Shopping? Be a smart shopper! Set a budget and stick to it. Compare prices on bigger ticket items, and check out the store’s return/exchange policy before you buy. Keep all receipts. If you are in a store, be mindful of your personal belongings. Theft is very active at this time of the year.

8.    Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) is the most popular day to shop online for the holidays! When shopping online, be sure your computer is protected, only shop trustworthy sites, beware of deals that sound too-good-to-be true, confirm your purchase is on a secure site, and pay with a credit card - it is easier to dispute the charges. Always keep documentation of your order.

9.    Give Wisely this holiday season. When you are approached for a contribution, ask for the charity’s full name and address, ask if the contribution is tax deductible, is the charity registered in the state, and find out how much of the donation will actually go to the charity. Also, don’t fall for high-pressure tactics. The charity that needs your money today will welcome it tomorrow. Get charity reports at www.bbb.org.

10.  ”Dear Santa” Websites are all the rage. More than 60 domain names have been registered in the name of old St. Nick. Sadly, some of the websites aren’t always trustworthy. Before your child visits a site, be sure it asks for a minimal amount of information. Check websites for adult content, and check the links to be sure the child doesn’t have access to inappropriate content.