BBB Top Ten Scams of 2016

April 06, 2017

1. Tax Scam - You receive a phone call from someone who claims to be with the IRS. They claim you owe money in back taxes and will be arrested or face legal consequences if you do not pay immediately. The caller ID is spoofed to appear to be a government agency or the police. IRS never calls consumers who owe money; they will send a certified letter.

2. Debt Collection Scam - You receive a phone call from someone claiming that you have an unpaid debt. You are threatened with garnishments, lawsuits, even jail time if you don’t pay right now. Ask questions and request proof of what you’re told you owe.

3. Sweepstakes/Prizes/Gifts Scam - You receive a call, letter, or email claiming you’ve won a prize in a sweepstakes. In order to receive the prize, you are instructed to send a fee to cover expenses associated with delivery, processing, or insurance. The prize is not real; you should never have to pay money to claim a prize you have won.

4. Online Purchase Scam – You make a purchase online but never receive the item. Scammers set up fraudulent sites in order to steal personal or financial information, or your money. Do your research and make sure you're shopping on a legitimate, secure site or from a reputable seller.

5. Employment Scam – You answer an online ad for a job offer. Your email response has a too-good-to-be-true offer that either offers work from home earning thousands of dollars a month with no experience needed or guarantees job placement with no interview or training by paying an upfront fee.

6. Government Grant Scam - You receive a phone call, email, or letter informing you that you’ve qualified for a government grant. In order to receive the grant, however, you are instructed to send money as a processing or delivery fee, usually by wire transfer or prepaid debit card. Government grants are applied for and there are not fees associated with them.

7. Tech Support Scam - You are contacted by “technicians” claiming to have detected a virus or security threat on your computer and, for a fee, can log-in and correct the problem remotely. Letting the caller have access to your computer allows them to steal sensitive computer passwords and/or damage computers with malicious software or charge you for services not rendered.

8. Advance Fee Loan Scam - While searching for loan information, you see an enticing ad and click through to the website. You fill out an application and soon receive an email or phone call advising that you are approved for the loan, but you must first send a processing fee, security deposit or insurance. You pay the “fee,” but never see the loan.

9. Fake Check/Money Order Scam - This can happen any time someone is paying you for goods or services (even when you are selling something online). You receive a check in the mail that is larger than the amount owed, and you are asked to deposit the check and wire the difference as soon as the funds are available. Scammers know it takes 7-10 days for a bank to realize a check is fake, so when it bounces, you’re out the money.

10. Phishing Scam – You receive an email telling you that you've won a contest or a company needs to verify your personal information, usually sensitive data such as your Social Security number or credit card number. This is known as “phishing”. Links or attachments in the email can allow malware to be downloaded on to your computer to search for your personal information. Legitimate businesses do not ask you to confirm your personal information through email.