Top 10 Scams of 2009 The Better Business Bureau has published a Top 10 Scams of 2009 list. Protect yourself from fraud - familiarize yourself with these common scams. 1. “Free” trial offers – All over the internet, websites offered free trials of everything from açai berry supplements to teeth whiteners. For thousands of customers, these free trials turned into hundreds of dollars in bogus charges. 2. Work from home scams – Many websites capitalized on the good names of Google and Twitter in 2009 to launch work at home scams. Consumers were told they needed to first download a “free trial” of learning materials, only to be billed hundreds of dollars monthly. The Google/Twitter work never materialized. 3. Phishing emails/H1N1 spam – Phishing emails, which attempt to trick recipients into revealing financial information, continued to be popular in 2009. H1N1 spam emails also popped up, selling fake flu-prevention methods. 4. Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue/Debt Relief – Scammers have offered help to save a victim’s house or get them out of credit card debt. Unfortunately, victims give the scammers money for assistance that they never receive. 5. Lottery/Sweepstakes Scams – Victims receive a letter telling them they’ve won a cash prize and a cheque for less than the total winnings. The letter requests a cheque be sent back to the lottery company to cover a made-up fee. The scam cheque bounces while the scammers make off with the victim’s fee money. 6. Mystery Shopping – While mystery shopping itself (secretly evaluating customer service) is real, many scammers exploit would-be secret shoppers. The scammer asks the victim to evaluate a money wire service like Western Union by wiring money (to the scammer). The scammer provides a fake cheque to cover the cost of the wire transfer, and the “mystery shopper” is out hundreds of dollars or more. 7. Robocalls – Robocalls are recorded phone messages that may say an auto warranty is about to expire, or offer help in reducing credit card interest rates. Not only are the calls annoying, they’re also from fraudsters. 8. Overpayment Scams – Typical victims are small business owners, landlords, and sellers on classified ads or websites. The scammer pretends to be a customer and sends a cheque for more than the amount requested. Then they ask the victim to wire the difference back. Ultimately, the cheque is fake and the victim is out the money. 9. Job Hunter Scams – Some scammers pose as potential employers in order to get financial information from their victims or demand a fee for a chance at the job. Others say that they need to check the victim’s credit report before hiring – then sign up the victim for a credit monitoring service that costs them each month until they cancel. 10. Government Grant/Stimulus Scams – In this tough economy, offers for worthless assistance and advice on how to get government grants bombard customers online, over the phone and in mail/email.
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