DENVER – Each year the Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder processes thousands of complaints, investigates numerous scams, and announced today its top ten list of the most common or serious issues of 2013.
Complaints against roofers, movers and health product retailers were high on the BBB’s radar, as well as scams related to the historic floods and the Affordable Care Act. Here lists the BBB of Denver/Boulder’s Top 10 Complaints & Scams of 2013:
1. Phishing: Many scams reported to the BBB involved some form of phishing, either via phone, email, social media or directly on a computer screen. This method was used in various new ways in 2013 and successful phishing scams led to “ransomware,” a deceptive malware that locks a computer and demands payment to resume operation.
2. Health & Diet Online Retailers: The BBB saw an alarming 163 percent rise in complaints against online health and diet sellers in 2013. Most complaints alleged deceptive advertising and unexpected charges. Many of these retailers’ actual locations are unknown. The companies commonly only disclosed addresses of their Colorado fulfillment centers.
3. Flood-Related Scams: Scams targeting flood victims were especially concerning to the BBB and took several forms. One was a phone phishing scam that attempted to steal social security numbers of child flood victims. Another was a door-to-door scam where fraudsters posed as Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives asking for money to assess damaged properties.
4. Roofers: BBB complaints against roofers increased 15 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, with more than 200 complaints filed. Property owners alleged roofers failed to honor warranties and took deposits but didn’t complete work.
5. Affordable Care Act-Related Scams: Many reported receiving calls from scammers claiming to be the government and saying the target was selected to receive new insurance cards through the Affordable Care Act—all they needed from the target was to verify bank account and social security numbers.
6. Property Management/Real Estate: As rents and home sales soared in 2013, property managers and real estate service firms remained some of the BBB’s most complained-about industries. Complaints commonly alleged incomplete services, unpaid payments and unfulfilled contracts.
7. Movers: Moving companies based in the metro area continue to rack up disputes and the industry saw a slight increase in complaints compared to 2012. Many alleged damaged or stolen goods, extremely slow delivery and poor customer service.
8. Craigslist Scams: Serious scams were reported relating to the popular buying-and-selling website in 2013. Consumers alleged finding people on Craigslist to perform services, for which they paid up front, but services were not completed. One of these Craigslist scammers, a tree trimmer, ended up in jail and another allegedly scammed people, including at least one flood victim, out of furniture repair deposits.
9. Illegal Foreign Lotteries/Sweepstakes: Many people, especially the elderly population reported sweepstakes and lottery scams in 2013. They happened via phone, mail and email. The targets were told they’ve won a large amount of money but need to pay a certain amount to claim it.
10. Collection Scams: Con artists pretended to be debt collectors and targeted business owners, Spanish speakers and the elderly, according to disturbing reports made to the BBB in 2013. Targets claimed they were intimidated with legal action, electricity disconnection and other threats if they didn’t pay immediately, usually via wire transfer.
The BBB advises to always research companies and charities first and to find BBB Accredited Businesses and Charities at findacompany.org. For more information on the latest on scams and industry tips all throughout the year, please visit denver.bbb.org and follow the BBB on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.
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About the BBB
The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Reviews, BBB Charity Reports and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, there are 113 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit denver.bbb.org for more information.