HOT TOPICS: January 2010
1. Census Facts - U.S. Census workers will be going door-to-door from April to July 2010. To be sure you aren’t scammed, BBB offers these tips: A Census worker must present an ID that contains a Dept. of Commerce watermark and expiration date. The worker will provide you with a supervisor contact upon request and provide you with a letter from the Census Bureau. A Census worker will never ask for your social security number, bank account, or credit card numbers. Census workers also never solicit for donations and will never contact you via e-mail. For more information go to www.census.gov/2010census.
2. Out of Work? Census jobs are available! Job hunters can apply for jobs now. Most hiring will take place in spring of 2010. Census workers usually work in their own communities, going door-to-door, conducting brief interviews. Census takers work about 20 to 40 hours per week, primarily in the evenings and on weekends. Job hunters can go to www.2010censusjobs.gov or call 1-866-861-2010 for more information.
3. Employment Scams - BBB urges job seekers to be cautious with online classified ads offering jobs. BBB often gets calls from job seekers who have been offered bogus employment opportunities online. The scammers try to obtain financial and personal information. While there are legitimate jobs posted on the sites, some of the scammers post these fake jobs on sites like Craigslist, Yahoo, Monster, and Career Builder.
4. BBB Lottery Scam - Local residents are getting calls from scam artists who say they represent the Better Business Bureau and they have won a million dollars. Consumers say the phone number comes up as RESTRICTED on the caller ID. BBB is not giving away a million dollars!
5. Walmart Voucher Scam - The text message says you’ve won a $200 Walmart voucher and tells you to call an 877 number to claim your prize. When you call, the person says to get the voucher, they need your credit card information to pay for a $9.90 shipping fee. This is a scam! Walmart does award gift cards if you take part in a customer service survey found on your receipt, but consumers find out they have won through certified mail and a phone call. Walmart will never ask for personal or banking information.
6. Peel, Inc. is an Internet company that sells a variety of home products under multiple names and Website addresses. The company has an F rating with the BBB due to over 2,200 complaints from across the country. Consumers allege undisclosed or unauthorized charges, lack of clearly disclosed shipping and/or membership fees, and deceptive advertising. According to its Website, Peel Inc. is currently not accepting new orders.
7. ‘Twilight’ Casting Call Scam - Scammers who are claiming to be casting “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” are targeting young fans through e-mails and fake casting call advertisements on fan sites. The e-mails implore those who are interested in walk-on parts to apply immediately with impending deadlines, promising that no experience is necessary and pay ranges from $80-250, depending on the role. If “Breaking Dawn” does start hiring extras, it will be widely advertised in the media. Also, there will be no need to pay to register at a Web site in order to find out casting details.
8. Microsoft/AOL Giveaway Scam - The claim: Internet users can receive a cash reward for forwarding messages to test a Microsoft/AOL e-mail tracking system. The truth: This is a long-running Internet hoax that has been circulating since 1997. The e-mail has changed companies and rewards over the years, but the con remains the same: fool Internet users to forwarding junk messages to friends. The pranksters get the last laugh.
9. It’s TAX TIME! Choose a tax preparer wisely! BBB suggests before you hire a tax professional, you find out what the service fees are before the return is prepared. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of your refund. Only use a tax preparer that signs your tax return and provides you with a copy of your records. Avoid anyone who asks you to sign a blank tax form. Remember, you are ultimately responsible for everything on your tax return. For more information go to www.bbb.org.
10. Joining a gym? Verify membership terms before you make a commitment. Most common complaints to BBB on athletic clubs focus on contract disputes and billing issues. BBB recommends you learn how long the membership is, if there is automatic renewal, can you go month-to-month, what is included in the monthly fee, is there a sign-up fee, and what are your cancellation rights? Also, compare clubs and prices. Always check with the BBB for a reliability report at www.bbb.org.