Marketplace Alerts for March 2011

  
     
March 17, 2011
In an effort to keep the public informed, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina offers monthly Marketplace Alerts to inform consumers. Readers should take into consideration the importance of the practice in question and the total performance of a company. This list is current as of release date. Information regarding business or consumer topics reported here can be obtained through the BBB office by contacting mschmidt@raleigh.bbb.org.
  • BBB has been alerted to a new scam targeting cell phone users. Posing as banks, scam artists are sending text messages to consumers asking them to contact them immediately about a pressing issue that needs to be discussed. Victims of the scam are often asked to call a toll-free number and provide information, such as their account number and password, to a fake automated system. If you unsure if the text message you received is a scam, BBB recommends contacting your bank to find out if there really is a pressing matter.
  • BBB urges consumers to beware of a recent telephone scam related to overdue payday loans. Consumers are receiving calls from people alleging to represent agencies, including the FBI and law firms. The caller claims to be collecting debts from well-known companies, but will not provide any information about the payday loan. The caller also attempts to instill fear by threatening the consumer with jail time and legal actions. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from consumers.
  • Bedford Financial, a commercial loan brokerage service, has been alerted that their name is being used to promote timeshare scams with which they have no affiliation. Their name is being given to consumers as the financial institution that is holding monies in escrow for the closing of timeshare sales. Bedford Financial’s business name is used fraudulently in this scam, and they have fallen victim to small business identity theft. Businesses should track where their name is being used to prevent small business identity theft.
  • BBB warns restaurant owners to beware of a recent scam involving a call from an inspector claiming to be with the health department. The caller states that the restaurant has been reported as being in violation of food handling regulations in some form and is going to be fined or possibly closed. The caller often requests personal information from employees, and then claims that they will overlook the violations if the restaurant wires money immediately. BBB advises businesses to always exert caution if asked to wire money.
  • BBB cautions consumers to beware of scam artists claiming to be government employees who are collecting information for a jury pool. Scam artists are contacting consumers and identifying themselves as a “clerk employee”. They inform the consumer that he or she has missed jury duty, and then begin asking for personal information. BBB urges consumers to avoid giving out personal information to suspicious callers.