Most common scams, Part 1: This year, the BBB celebrates its 100th anniversary. Unfortunately, con artists have been around even longer. Today, the BBB’s Scam Source (www.bbb.org/scam) is available to you at no charge. Sign up to receive our emailed Scam Alerts. Here’s the first half of 2011’s top scams:
• Top job scam: The website looks professional. You’re interviewed and receive an offer. But now you have to fill out a credit report or provide bank information to set up direct deposit. The “employer” is really out to capture your Social Security number and bank account information. There is no job. What you can do: Never provide strangers with your Social Security or bank routing numbers. • Top sweepstakes/lottery scam: The top sweepstakes scam of 2011 was the email claiming to be from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announcing that you had won $1 million. What you can do: If you aren’t sure about a claim like this, go directly to the homepage of the named company. Or call your BBB. If you have to pay, you didn’t win.
• Top social media scam: Viral videos from Osama bin Laden’s death to the latest celebrity capers showed up this year in social media, often seeming to have been shared by a friend. A link prompted you to “upgrade your Flash player” to see the video, then installed a worm to log into your account, spam your friends, and capture your personal data. What you can do: Curious about the news? Go to a legitimate and trusted news website to get the latest details.
• Top home improvement scam: The contractor knocks on your door with a great deal. Itinerant contractors move around, keeping one step ahead of the law … and angry consumers. What you can do: Always check with your state department of Labor & Industries before hiring a contractor. BBB- accredited contractors and other trustworthy companies will be listed there as licensed, bonded and insured. Find one at www.bbb.org.
• That’s all we have room for this week. Look for the rest, including the “scam of the year,” next week.
Holly Doering, BBB editor