By: Barbara Green, Better Business Bureau
- IRS – still the #1 scam in the country today. That # has dropped significantly since the raid in Mumbai, India. The IRS will NEVER call you directly.
- Debt Collections– you are contacted that you owe a sizable amount and they will clear up your rating if you pay the debt immediately. Always ask for documentation to be sent to you. These calls can be threatening but always ask for a company name, address, phone # and the name of the supervisor. A legitimate company will be glad to give this information to you.
- Sweepstakes/Prizes/Gifts-You receive an email or letter saying that you have won a great prize but you only have to pay a small administration fee and taxes to receive it. No genuine lottery asks for money.
- Online Purchase-You purchase something online but you never get the product and the charge is on your credit card. Please call your credit card company to challenge the charge.
- Employment– work-at-home jobs such as envelop stuffing, toy assembling, or mystery shopping are all scams. They ask for up-front money to pay for supplies or equipment, and after paying, nothing is sent to you. The caller now has your personal information and can steal your identity.
- Government Grants-the government does NOT call you to give you money. Calls have suggested that the grant does not have to be paid back and that you can use the money anyway you wish. This does not happen in the REAL WORLD.
- Tech Support-you get a call saying that Microsoft (or other computer companies) have detected a virus on your computer and you must let them have access to your computer to fix it. There is NO way a company can detect anything on anyone’s computers.
- Advance Fee Loan-you “qualify” for a low-interest loan. It is illegal for a business to charge a fee prior to providing a loan. Typically, after wiring money to the scammer, the victim never receives the loan.
- Fake Check or Money Order-you are trying to sell something online. The “purchaser” sends you a check or money order for the item. Oops, they made the check out for too much and suggest that you send them a check for the difference. Your check is good and theirs bounces. You are legally responsible for your check, regardless.
- Phishing-emails pretend to be from a company, organization, or government agency but asks you to confirm your personal information. The scammers are after your SSN or bank account information.
There are other scams that are common that are not in the top ten. These are: fake invoices, medical alerts, foreign currency, casting calls, text messages supposedly from your bank, online dating sites, scholarship and home loans, and claims for credit card/loan rate reduction schemes.All of these scams, though, have one purpose and one purpose only. That is to get your personal information, either SSN, credit card information, or banking information. DO NOT GIVE OUT ANY INFORMATION TO ANYONE WHO CALLS YOU OR SENDS YOU AN UNSOLICITED LETTER. Hang up the phone, delete the text message, or shred any and all forms of solicitations of this manner. Here, at the Better Business Bureau, we have one New Year’s resolution – to make this a scam-free zone. Please call or contact us and we will be glad to refer an accredited business or a business with a good rating to you. Go to our site, bbb.org/iowa, and type in your search. You can get a Business Review on thousands of legitimate businesses. You can also file a complaint and we will help you – free of charge. We are proud to be of service to you and be a part of your community. Happy New Year.