BBB Twice a Month Tips You Can Trust for the Week January 17, 2011

  
     
February 10, 2011

fOLLOW USTIP NUMBER ONE

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TIP NUMBER ONE

NEW PHONE SCAM TWIST REFLECTS 2011 BUZZ HEADLINER, Wikileaks

Automated Message States Penalties, Threat of Imprisonment for Having Visited Wikileaks

With Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, even recently professing “fear for his life” over his activities via his controversial web site, Wikileaks: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/death-penalty-fears-for-wikileaks-founder-julian-assange-2181547.html and with the year 2010 ending with such a BUZZ about Wikileaks, it was only a matter of time before clever scammers would reveal a “latest” approach at attempting to part people with their money in 2011.
Full release here:

http://spokane.bbb.org/article/new-phone-scam-twist-reflects-2011-buzz-headliner-wikileaks-24851  

TIP NUMBER TWO

Quantum Market Research, Inc, BBB CA Accredited Business Profile Being Used to Purport Scam

Quantum Market Research, Inc of CA is an accredited business in our service area; they have alerted BBB that their name is being used on fake checks in a mystery shopper scam.

http://www.bbb.org/greater-san-francisco/business-reviews/market-research-and-analysis/quantum-market-research-in-oakland-ca-295106?gid=1&gen=1&lid=1

BBB BLOG: Throwing Out Your Old Electronics Could Result In a Big Fine

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110104/ap_on_hi_te/us_electronic_waste

TIP NUMBER THREE

REAL ESTATE ALERT: LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO RENT? YOU’RE NOT ALONE…KNOW THE RED FLAGS OF RENTAL SCAMS BEFORE SEARCH

Thanks, CO BBB, for this Warning, and the Tips

Are you putting down a rental deposit that allows you to move in --- or will someone move on with your money?

Real estate scams are prevalent today and are showing no signs of going away. A common form of these scams involves a con artist advertising a house as a rental when it is not. In fact, it’s a house that is actually for sale and being advertised on a legitimate real estate company’s website.

The con artist takes the picture from the website and puts it on his fraudulent website. He advertises on craigslist that the house is for rent, asking for first and last month’s rent. A web address is given to view the house. The prospective tenant checks out the house online and sends the deposit. Many times con artists ask their victims to wire the money.

Once the money is gone there is no getting it back. The con artist is probably in Canada and the website is gone. He’s moved on to his next victim.

Being proactive is your defense. Do your homework before sending any money to anyone you don’t know.

• First, check with your state assessor’s office to determine who owns the property.
• Second, Google the address and see if the property shows up on any real estate website for rent or for sale. If the property that was advertised for rent on craigslist shows up for sale on a real estate website, there is a serious problem. Contact the real estate company and apprise them of the situation.
• Third, if possible, contact the neighbors of the property you are planning on renting. Ask them about the owner and status of the property. Is it for sale? Or rent? Or in foreclosure?
• Fourth, don’t wire money. Any time you are asked to wire money you should consider that a deal breaker.
• Five, check with the bank that holds the mortgage to make sure it is not in foreclosure.

Today’s housing problems coupled with con artists ability to use technology to deceive consumers, makes it a necessity to do your homework before sending rental deposits.

TIP NUMBER FOUR

E-Commerce Warning
www.uggbootsclearance.com a Scam Site
Customers Report That They Make Payments, Do not Receive Boots

Your regional BBB received a call from a disappointed consumer who ordered a pair of UGGS from the above-mentioned site, paid for them, but never received order.  BBB has been able to verify via several subjective posts out there that is site is a scam, and the same thing has happened to them, too.

HOW TO REPORT
If you have paid by credit card (which is the safest method of payment online), dispute the charge ASAP with your merchant for non-delivery. Be pro-active and file a formal complaint with the FTC at: www.ftc.gov as well as www.econsumer.gov  for international companies, of which this is one (China).

Here is one such post that reports a typical scenario about the activities of this scam web site:

The site is a scam. The ordering looks legit. After I receive my tracking number I notice that the product is shipping from China. Website says it takes 5 to 7 days to process and receive order. It has been 10 days and no package. Tried to email and got no response. Tried to dispute charges and bank wouldn't. The website changes its name from time to time. Sometimes they will add UK or US to the end.

Watch for FAKE Australian Flood Victim Donation Pleas!
http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1468466/International-scams-target-flood-victims

TIP NUMBER FIVE

LATEST WORK-FROM-HOME WARNING:
Economic Freedom Corporation of AZ

This company is calling people randomly offering/pitching their web site service business. One 83 year-old woman in Omaha, NB was charged $22,000 to join. Story here: http://www.wowt.com/mcknightinvestigates/headlines/83_Year_Old_Pressured_Into_Web_Business_112630444.html

What does the business actually do? Offers products and web-based businesses for a fee.

BBB ADVICE
Be wary of groups that contact you randomly offering you a too good to be true business plan. The woman above didn’t even own a computer. Know how to look for red flags of work-from-home offers, from direct marketing rep positions to working a job that requires little or no skills whatsoever. Call your BBB to ask about such offers if you are in doubt.

FULL BBB BUSINESS REVIEW HERE
http://www.bbb.org/central-northern-western-arizona/business-reviews/business-opportunity-companies/the-economic-freedom-corporation-in-phoenix-az-1000012456/

REGIONAL GOVERNMENT ACTIONS, TIPS AND ADVICE

FDIC

'Patriot Act' Phishing E-mails Resurface

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/216644/patriot_act_phishing_emails_resurface_fdic_warns.html

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

11.7 MIL peeps reported ID Theft in '08 What happened in 2009? http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/2010/BJS11044.htm

I.R.S.

IRS Not Sending Tax Packets This Year http://www.komonews.com/news/consumer/113076959.html

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

FTC Halts Operation that Posed as Government Agencies and Duped Consumers into Paying to Collect Bogus Prize Money

http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/12/prizeinfo.shtm  

WA Attorney General

Grandparent scam continues to victimize
http://atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?&id=27190
 
WA AG joins settlement concerning Comcast/NBC merger
http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?&id=27188

WA Labor and Industries

WA State L&I’s fraud-fighting program collects $137 million http://lni.wa.gov/News/2011/pr110118a.asp

IDAHO AG

Joseph Fisher sentenced for insurance fraud and forgery

http://www.ag.idaho.gov/media/newsReleases/2011/nr_01182011.html
MT AUDITOR’S OFFICE

Montana’s Insurance Commissioner requests authority to review premium rate increases

http://www.csi.mt.gov/news/20110118rates.html  

MONTANA AMBER ALERTS TO BE POSTED ON FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/AMBERalertMT