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Check out the latest scams and bad business in BBB’s November 2013 Hot Topics!
1. Beware of the IRS Phone Scam! Scammers threaten arrest, or deportation, if you do not immediately pay money that you supposedly owe the IRS. Payment is demanded through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The caller ID is spoofed to look like the IRS is calling. Hang up the phone. The IRS will not call and ask you for personal information. Information from the IRS will come through direct mail.
2. Beware of Utility Scams. The caller impersonates a representative of your local utility company, claiming “your heat is going to be shut off,” unless you pay NOW via Green Dot Money Pak. Don’t pay anything. This is a scam!
3. Scammers are using the Affordable Care Act to confuse consumers. Beware of fake insurance exchanges and phone calls or emails saying you need a new Medicare card or a new National Insurance card. Victims are asked for personal information. Another twist is fake navigators offering “free help,” just to get your personal information.
4. You receive a recording about a claim against you and your Social Security Number, and that a company is suing you. The person is trying to scare you into calling them and then plans to intimidate you into paying money to drop false claims. This is a scam!
5. Beware of Voice Mail Attachments in your inbox. Think twice about clicking on them. Scammers use these zip files to unleash malware onto your computer. Delete the email!
6. Scammers are sending Fake Google Wallet Invoices over the internet. Ads are placed for “too good to be true” prices on merchandise, then the seller asks the buyer to complete the transaction using Google Wallet, but it really isn’t Google Wallet. The fake email requests the buyer to pay using a wire transfer service. This form of payment is not accepted by Google Wallet, and in order to use their services, you must first log in to a Google Plus account.
7. You receive a text message saying your Credit Card has been deactivated and to call a number to have it reactivated. The text appears to come from a bank. When you call, a voice recording says, “to reactive your card, you must press 1.” Then, you are asked to provide your credit card number and PIN. This is a scam!
8. If you are planning a Holiday Party, BBB recommends interviewing two or more caterers, ask for references, request a tasting, find out if the caterer provides dishes, glasses, flatware, and linens, request a detailed breakdown on food, beverages, fees, tips, and other expenses, and insist on a written contract with the date of the event. Check the company out at bbb.org.
9. Start your search for a Holiday Job NOW! Retail, shipping, restaurants, and catering companies are common places for seasonal employment. Work where you shop - 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.
10. Be a smart Black Friday Shopper! Set a budget and stick to it. Research where the sales will be – and compare prices. Beware of false advertising, with “too-good-to-be-true” prices. Check out the store’s return/exchange policy before you buy. Keep all receipts. And, beware of theft. Keep your personal belongings close when shopping.
11. When shopping online on Cyber Monday, be sure your computer is protected, use strong and unique passwords, only connect to secure Wi-Fi networks (since you will be sharing personal information), 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.
12. 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 and if 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.