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BBB Tip of the Week

Con artists posing as job recruiters are exploiting inexperienced or desperate job seekers with offers of fast cash. Victims may believe they have landed a secret shopper job, but really they are “credit mules,” victims left on the hook for large contractual payments and, if unable to pay, negative credit ratings.

The hot commodities at the center of the scam are smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. The recruiter offers cash payment to the targeted individual for signing separate service contracts for several phones and devices. The recruiter then collects the devices and their unlock codes, which severs the connection to the wireless provider. The recruiter assures the person that the contracts can be canceled within the allotted time, which is typically 15 to 30 days, absolving them of financial responsibility.

However, when a target attempts to cancel the contracts, he finds out that returning the device is necessary to cancel a contract. By that time, the recruiter and the devices are long gone. Devices are sold overseas for hefty sums. Meanwhile, the victim is left paying out service contracts or getting a negative credit rating when the overdue bills go to collection.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to avoid “credit muling” scams:

Read the entire contract and ask questions, if anything is confusing, before signing. It is better to understand your legal commitment than be surprised once it is too late.

If a job offer sounds too good to be true, it almost definitely is.

Learn how credit works and about the long-term effects of bad credit. For more information, visit the FTC’s Consumer Information website at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/ topics/money-credit.

If you have been the victim of a “credit muling” scam, the FTC asks that you report it at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

To check out a business or if you think you’ve been approached by a scammer, contact the BBB at www.bbb.org or call (509) 455-4200.

By Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor



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