BBB Hot Topics - October

October 02, 2009
BBB Hot Topics - October

Door-to-Door Sales - A local consumer was approached by college students with Prestige Sales. They were going door-to-door asking people to purchase picture books for hospitalized children and to pay for a trip that the student had won to Australia. The local consumer made out a check for $55 ($40 for the book and $15 to help the student with the trip). The next day, the consumer canceled her check because she thought the story sounded fishy. She was right. Prestige Sales has an F rating with the BBB. 

ACT Scam: Don’t be fooled by a phone call offering a free 30 day trial of CD’s that are guaranteed to raise your child’s ACT test score. A local parent received a call like this, and tells us the caller had their child’s name and school, and that the child requested ACT study assistance at a college fair. The caller wants your credit card number to charge and upfront fee of $165. Hang up the phone!

Vacation Junk Faxes: BBB received a fax from a company, which does not name itself, offering all employees vacation packages at wholesale rates (saving nearly $3000 per couple). The package includes a 6 day/5 night stay in Cancun or the Mayan Riviera for only $298 per person, all food and alcohol included. Consumers across the country are complaining about getting this fax from 1-866-504-1136. BBB cannot find a company registered with this number. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. has an F rating with the BBB. The company claims you can get rich quick by working for them and selling travel online. BBB has received over 140 complaints against the company. The company has been targeted by law enforcement officials in California and Illinois in recent months. This is thought to be a pyramid scheme. "Employees" were being charged $500 monthly to recruit others. Those that have paid out money have not seen any returns. 

IRS Scam: Beware of any emails that supposedly come from the IRS. The latest, reported to the BBB, involves a "notice of underreported income." The email asks the receiver to click on a link and provide personal information. This is a phishing scam and your identity could be stolen! The IRS never sends random emails as a part of its communication efforts.

October 17th through the 24th is National Protect Your Identity Week. Identity theft is one of the biggest crimes in America. It is when a person steals your personal information, like your credit card, bank account, or social security numbers and then uses that information for their own personal gain. For ways to protect yourself against ID Theft, go to

First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit: Time is running out to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit set aside for them this year as part of the economic recovery effort. Barring a time extension, consumers looking to cash in must purchase a home by November 30th. Considering it takes about 30 days to close on a house, now is the time to act. A first-time home buyer is considered an individual who hasn’t owned a principal residence in the past three years. For more information go to 

Beware of Scareware! Scareware is a tactic to scam computer users to spend money on virus protection for problems they do not have. A message pops up warning their computer has been infected with a virus. The user is then told to visit a Web site to purchase and download anti-virus software that will fix the problem. The software actually installs more viruses and malware onto the computer — and the user’s credit card number is now in the hands of hackers. For more information go to

Some Teeth Whitening Products sold online are wiping smiles off consumers’ faces! BBB warns consumers should be wary of online ads promising a whiter, brighter smile. BBB has received an onslaught of complaints from consumers who thought they signed up for a free trial offer of teeth whitening products, but were repeatedly billed for products and services they didn’t want. The ads were found on websites like CNN, ABC News, CBS News, FOX News, USA Today, and Forbes.

It’s time to Prepare Your Furnace for the winter! Make sure the furnace filter is clean. Check the thermostat to be sure it is working properly and the pilot light is functioning. Furnaces older than 15 years might be due for a replacement. Homeowners can also hire an inspector to do the job and make sure the furnace is in safe working order.