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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana
BBB Weekly Tips You Can Trust Week of June 16th 2008
June 16, 2008

Compiled by Zan Deery, Communications/Investigations

06/09/08

zan@spokane.bbb.org
800-356-1007 or 509-455-4200

www.bbb.org

Readers of these tips should take into consideration the importance of the practice in question and the total performance of a company.

For complete information and BBB reports, please visit
 
www.bb.org 

TIP NUMBER ONE

BBM FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. of Newfoundland, Canada:
SWEEPSTAKES SCAM, Sending Fake Checks Using Good Name of Yakima Business

It has been brought to the BBB's attention that BBM Financial Services, Inc. in Yakima, WA is receiving phone calls from people throughout the U.S. that have received a winning sweepstakes letter and supposed winnings check in the amount of $4,720 drawn off a Wells Fargo Bank in Michigan from a "BBM Financial Services" with the following Canadian contact info:

1004 Airport Road, St. John, Newfoundland, Canada, A1B3X5, phone number 778-829-1979; contact, Patricia Penny, 101 7th Avenue, St. John, NF, Canada. 

This sweepstakes scam is misusing the good name of BBM Financial Services, Inc. of Yakima, WA., and the check enclosed is fake. This scam is not in any way affiliated with the legitimate company by the same name in Yakima, WA.

TIPS
If you receive a sweepstakes notification from BBM Financial Services in Canada, be aware that the check you are being sent is counterfeit and the BBB strongly advises you not to attempt cashing it. Be pro-active and contact Phonebusters, the Canadian fraud unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at 888 495-8501 to report having received the mailing.

TIP NUMBER TWO

DISCOUNT MEDICAL 866-613-8883 Cold Calling Our Area:
Offering Discount Medical Cards

The BBB received a call from a woman whose sister, who is on SSI, received a cold call from the above mentioned company offering a discount medical card. We decided to call the company and see for ourselves what more we could find about their offer, since the customer’s experience was unclear.

When we called the 866#, we took the Customer Service option and got a man with a very heavy accent who said he was “Gavin Smith.” We clearly stated who we were and why we were calling, for further information on the company he represented. We asked for a physical address for the company. The rep said he couldn’t give that out unless he verified who we were—He asked for our phone number and said he would call back. He stated that his company is calling people “all over” and making them very happy by offering them up to 60% off their medical needs for life. The cost of the card is “$279 and claims it is a new company that has just started business in March 2008.

To date, we have not heard back from the company as to its whereabouts.

When a sister of the disabled consumer got wind that her sister had unwittingly signed up for this card, and that her account had been debited $349 she called the company for further info. The company told her that the government was going to require that everybody get new cards. She asked, “What card?” They said, “One like your old card.” As she proceeded to ask further questions, they hung up on her.
When the sister called the company, she spoke to a “Victor Davis,” “Rickie Jones,” and “Shane Williams.”

BBB TIPS
We urge extreme caution purchasing discount medical cards from a cold caller. This is an industry where you will want to KNOW who you are dealing with before agreeing to anything. First and foremost, protect your personal information, even if they press you for it. If they will not answer your questions, end the call.

The new Medicare-approved drug discount card program has been active for quite some time now, and with it has come complaints and concerns about deceptive companies such as the one mentioned above. The Better Business Bureau urges consumers to take time and gather all the information possible, before making a choice to join a program. Make sure that the card that you are signing on for has been approved by Medicare!

Many identity theft scams target seniors and this new drug card program could offer the perfect opportunity for scam artists.

Beware of any company that solicits a drug discount card and wants your information - this could be a scam! Medicare approved companies CANNOT solicit door-to-door or cold call to sell consumers the Medicare-approved drug card!

TIP NUMBER THREE

www.youvebeenleftbehind.com
BE CAREFUL PROTECTING PERSONAL INFO, ETC.

The above mentioned web site is a site where people who may be raptured when the world ends can leave information for those who have been left behind.  For just $40 a year, believers can arrange for up to 62 people to get a final message exactly six days after the Rapture, aka in theory, whomever you have signed up will be notified by email and the information given to them when the participant is raptured at the time of the end of the world.  Rapture is determined when the person doesn’t log in for a certain number of days in a row.

Why be wary?

The web site offer suggests that people leave very personal info with the company – bank account numbers, where things may be hidden in their house, car keys, house keys, etc.

The company is a legitimate one registered with its Secretary of State:

You’ve Been Left Behind, LLC
115 Courtney Rd.
Harwich MA 02645-1840

Massachusetts Secretary of State lists it as an LLC established 3/11/2008.

TIPS
As with any such offer, it is always best to protect such sensitive information and think hard on which entities you wish to have such personal information. The protection of such info is only as good as the company’s safety and security features it enlists for maintaining customer info in a safe manner. The choice and risk is yours!

TIP NUMBER FOUR

F.B.I. And Better Business Bureau Issue Warnings about Fraudulent E-mails Containing Risky Hyperlinks

Warning Courtesy of Connecticut BBB

Wallingford, CT - June 9, 2008 – The F.B.I. and Better Business Bureau are warning business owners they may be targeted with phony “complaints” filed against them or their company by what looks like the U.S. Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration or Better Business Bureau.

Law enforcement authorities say the would-be complaints arrive in the form of e-mail, addressing recipients by name and including some personal information to make the complaint appear legitimate.
Like similar schemes, the F.B.I says the scammers will ask for more personal information and create a false sense of urgency to call a telephone number or click on a link within the e-mail which may open a potentially dangerous attachment.

These phony e-mails urge the recipient to click on a hyperlink to read the “complaint,” but authorities say if you do, the hyperlink may download virus software into your computer. The virus hides in a screen saver file in your PC where most anti-virus software will miss it during a scan.

The virus monitors user names and passwords, online activity, and records other password—related information.

In the meantime, the Better Business Bureau name continues to be used in similar so-called phishing scams. Fraudulent e-mails containing malicious links and viruses have been sent to businesses and consumers around the country claiming to contain information on a complaint filed with Better Business Bureau.

Recipients may receive a fraudulent message from any of the following addresses: operations@bbb.org, idtheft@bbb.org, complaints@bbb.org, consumercomplaints@bbb.org, idtheft@bbb.org, onlineidentitytheft@euro-viza.com, seatac@bbb.org, complains-serv@bbb.org, compl-srv@bbb.org, complntscentercase@bbb.org and fraud@bbb.org.

One other fraudulent e-mail address is diputes@la.bbb.org. Note the misspelling of "disputes." The message is replete with grammatical and spelling errors.

The F.B.I. and Better Business Bureau both underscore the dangers of these suspect e-mails, and recommend the following:

1) Beware of any e-mail from an unknown sender.
2) Never click on an attachment or hyperlink in any e-mail from someone you do not know, especially in unsolicited e-mail.
3) If you have received a scam e-mail as described above, notify law enforcement officials by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov.
When in doubt, you may also check out the reliability of a company which may be listed in such an e-mail by visiting www.bbb.org.

TIP NUMBER FIVE

HAVE YOU RECENTLY LOST A JOB? How to Cope!

The BBB offers the following advice on dealing with losing a job and acting quickly to get back on the right track toward finding a new one:

SAY GOODBYE TO THE OLD JOB: While receiving word that you've been let go can be extremely emotional and can make it hard to keep a clear head, employees need to make sure they understand the terms of the situation including any benefits for which they are eligible. Many companies provide a severance package and, by law, employees are entitled to any accrued vacation. Laid-off employees should also ask their former employer for references -- if they left on relatively good terms -- to help with their job search.

LINE UP UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AND HEALTH INSURANCE: It's important to get the ball rolling immediately by applying for unemployment benefits through the state unemployment office because it can take up to three weeks to start receiving checks. Eligibility requirements vary by state and typically take into account wages earned, length of employment and reason for unemployment.
If the employee received health insurance under their former employee, he or she can apply for coverage under the Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Resolution Act (COBRA). COBRA provides up to 18 months of health insurance after being laid off. A company's Human Resources department will have application information, or employees can go to the U.S. Department of Labor Web site at www.dol.gov.

EVALUATE FAMILY FINANCES AND CUT WASTEFUL SPENDING: Having and managing a budget is crucial to success in unemployed situations -- if the employee didn't have a family budget, now is the time to make one. Money will be tight and evaluating expenses, including finding ways to cut costs, will help a family get through the lean times. The worst thing to do is to ignore bills as they keep piling up. The BBB recommends keeping in contact with lenders to explain the current unforeseen situation and potentially work together to find solutions for weathering the financial storm.

KEEP BUSY: Job hunters should take inventory of their career and consider the opportunity to change occupations or relocate to a new city. Being laid off can be a discouraging time to start looking for a new job, but it is not the time to let the grass grow underfoot.
The BBB recommends filling the down time in a job hunt by volunteering, learning new skills or taking continuing education classes. Remember that many experts consider looking for a job a full-time job in and of itself.