BBB Hot Topics: September 2012

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By Better Business Bureau

 Check out the latest scams and bad business in BBB’s September 2012 Hot Topics!


1. BBB has received 61 inquiries on Total Home Services over the past two months. The address callers are providing, 700 E. Broadway, Louisville, KY, appears to be a false address. All indications are that this name is used by an out-of-state, if not outside the United States, boiler room telephone bank that is attempting to generate sales leads, most likely being sold to independent sales persons who market roof replacement on behalf of certain roofing contractors.

2. BBB has received several calls about Free Federal Grants. One local consumer says she was offered a “free” grant for educational purposes, and was asked to wire a $7,000 fee. A real government agency won’t ask you to pay a fee for a grant. The names of agencies and foundations that award grants are available, for free, at any public library or online at www.grants.gov.

3. Don’t fall for a Spoofing Scam. This is when a scam artist calls your phone and makes it look like they are calling from a legitimate company or organization. Often, these scamsters ask for personal information. BBB Tip: hang up the phone and call the business directly!

4. If you receive an email from the IRS, it is likely an attempt to steal your personal information or to install malware on your computer. BBB Louisville’s CEO received an email from the “IRS” stating that his tax transaction, recently initiated from his bank account, was returned. It asked him to click on a link, which appeared to be a Microsoft office Document. The real IRS will not contact you via email.

5. Beware of Mortgage Refinancing Schemes. Direct mail solicitations often tout the Obama administration’s mortgage relief programs such as HARP or the Making Home Affordable Plan. The solicitations make exaggerated claims of savings. Another scheme involves false mortgage refinance ads found on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The ads make phony claims of being sponsored by government rescue programs, and may provide a website link to an “online refinance center” requesting personal information or upfront fees.

6. Beware of 9/11 Scams. Malicious websites and emails could contain phishing attempts, and videos on social networking sites could contain viruses. Also beware of any phone calls you receive that are marketed as investment opportunities or fundraisers to benefit victims. Check out the company or charity first at www.bbb.org.

7. Disaster Donations: In the wake of Hurricane Isaac and other storms threatening the U.S., the BBB is warning donors to be cautious when donating to help victims. Don’t reply to unsolicited emails and social media posts that claim to link to a relief organization. They could be phishing for your information. Check out all organizations at www.bbb.org/charity.

8. September is National Preparedness Month. Is your family prepared if disaster strikes? Be ready: Prepare a kit with enough emergency supplies for your family for three days (water, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, prescriptions, a flashlight, a battery powered radio, and anything your pet might need). Designate two locations for your family to meet if there is a disaster, one near your home and one away from your home. More tips are available at www.ready.gov.

9. Consumers are receiving postcards from Grocery Saving Club, which offers to easily save you $1,000 or more on groceries and other services. To receive the savings, you have to sign up for the “Savings Club.” Consumers complain they never receive any discounts and they call and cancel, and are still billed. The company has an F rating with BBB due to too many complaints.

10. There are two new Facebook Scams. In one, spammers take advantage of a FB user’s desire to stay connected by sending fake alerts for “activity you may have missed on FB.” The email appears to come from a FB user’s personal email address. Another FB scam claims to be a photo tag. It’s actually a new strain of malware.