Chesterton Tribune

Better Busines Bureau: Beware of scams via email and phone

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The Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana (BBB) is alerting folks to a number of scams, both old and emerging ones.

The emergency e-mail from abroad. From an actual e-mai: “I'm very sorry to bother you with this, I had to make a sudden trip out of the country to (Cyprus Euro), unfortunately for me i got mugged and they got away with all i had with me including my cell phone and my bank card. Am in a terrible situation right now and I don't have access to calls only via email and i also can't access my bank account from here. I need a loan of $2,600. i will refund the money to you once i get back home, I will really appreciate whatever amount you can come up with, if not all because i need to get back home. Please do locate the nearest western union outlet. Please keep this between us.” This scam is often directed at seniors by tricksters who pose as grandchildren, with information acquired from social networking sites.

Online digital photos could potentially lead criminals to your door. Be aware that digital photos have embedded “geo-tags,” which is a fancy way of saying that your digital photos carry your latitude /longitude whereabouts and the time and date that pictures were taken. There are apps that can remove this information, before you upload. For the iPhone, there is deGeo. The Android has Geo-Eraser, and JPEG and PNG Stripper can be used on any phone that has GPS. For more information on these apps, consult with your wireless carrier.

Telemarketing calls. What to do about unwanted, repetitive phone calls, such as calls from Card Member Services? (1) Screen your calls. Either let an answering service answer for you or invest in a caller ID service. (2) If you choose not to screen your calls, don't give out personal information. If they ask to confirm your name, ask them who they are, why they’re calling, and who they’re with. (3) If you're on the Do Not Call List, they should not be calling you, unless you previously have done business with them. If you are, tell them they should not be calling you. (4) Ask to be added to their business's No Call List and any business affiliates, if they are calling on behalf of another party. (5) If they keep disregarding the No Call Rule, then file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Craigslist Scam. A woman posted a rug for sale on Craigslist. The buyer put a down payment of $100 to hold the rug. The selling price was $2,900 and the buyer sent a check for $3,900 to pay for it, with the extra $1,000 to be wired by the seller to a “pickup agent.” The seller did recognize it as a scam. Had she not, deposited the check, and wired the $1,000, she would have been on the hook for it, as the check would have been a phony.

Debt collectors are threatening jail time. Individuals applying for cash advance loans online are receiving harassing calls from debt collectors, although debts are paid. The debt collector has the individual's bank account, routing number, address, and Social Security number, which was provided online, when signing up for cash advance services. One particular threat: $250 had to be paid by 3:30 p.m. that day or the woman would be arrested. Then, the remainder of the $499 had to be paid by Saturday. The caller had a thick Middle Eastern accent and supposedly worked for Cash Advance America.

Are lotteries too good to be true? You bet! For a $10 fee, you'll receive $20,000 from CPS Payments, located in the Netherlands. From Madrid, Spain, a woman was awarded millions of dollars for an international sweepstakes that has random drawings, if she provides her bank account information. Of course, she is told by giving that information, the winnings can be direct deposited into her account. In addition, foreign lotteries are illegal in the United States.

Hiring a contractor. Persons not checking the reliability of a contractor run the risk of being ripped off. It's important that the contractor you work with is licensed and bonded, or you could be paying even more out of pocket expense in event of an injury on your property.

Mystery Shopping. Checks sent to folks who want to work as mystery shoppers are often drawn on stolen bank accounts. Cashing these checks will only get them in trouble because they will be held accountable for money they don’t have from depositing that fraudulent check.




Posted 11/2/2011