Marketplace Alerts for June 2011

July 01, 2011

In an effort to keep the public informed, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina offers monthly Marketplace Alerts. Information regarding business or consumer topics reported here can be obtained through the BBB office by contacting      

BBB urges consumers to beware of a new scam targeting cell phone users. Posing as bank employees, scam artists are sending text messages urging consumers 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 debit card or account number, to a fake automated system. BBB advises consumers to never respond to the text messages, as this will let the scam artist know that your number is active. Also, contact your cell phone provider to block the scam artist’s number. 

BBB has recently been alerted of a scam that is plaguing local hotels and their guests, as scam artists are obtaining the credit card information of hotel guests over the phone. Scam artists are calling hotel guests in the middle of the night, claming that they are a hotel employee. They say the hotel computer system has crashed and in order to complete the hotel audit, they must have their credit card number. The scam artist often offers the guest a discount on the room for the inconvenience. BBB advises consumer to not provide any credit card information until you have verified that the person you are speaking with is really who they claim to be.

BBB cautions consumers to beware of a 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.

BBB urges consumers to beware of calls from scam artists who tell them they have won a lottery and need to collect their winnings. Scam artists are calling both individuals and businesses to inform them that they have won a significant amount of money, but must first wire a fee to receive the money. Avoid wiring money to someone who awards you with something too good to be true and never pay money to accept a prize. BBB advises consumers to research a company before providing any personal information or sending money.

BBB has been informed by consumers of a new scam involving a Web site claiming to offer replacement Social Security cards. The Web site requested payment upfront and then referred consumers to a nearby Social Security office where they could pick up their new card. When consumers went to the Social Security office, they were told that the Web site was not legitimate and that payment is not required for replacement Social Security cards. BBB advises consumers to use caution when doing Internet searches to find government agencies, as there are many fake Web sites which look official, designed solely to defraud consumers.