At the beginning of each year, the Better Business Bureau releases a list of scams so you can keep an eye out. They research trends and predict how fraudsters are going to try and steal your money right out from under your nose. On Jan. 4, 2012, the BBB published their list of the Top 10 Scams of 2012. Before we delve in, let’s take a look and recap the top ten scams of 2011.
- Job Hunter Scams
- Debt Relief and Settlement Services
- Work from Home Schemes
- Timeshare Resellers
- Not So “Free” Trial Offers
- Itinerant Home Repair/Roofers
- Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams
- Identity Theft
- Advance Fee Loan Scams
- Over-Payment Scams
Now, let’s see take a look at the top ten scams of 2012.
1. Job Scams
Still topping the charts at No. 1 is the phony job scam. As if it wasn’t hard enough to crack into today’s job market, these scams will not only crush your hopes of being employed, but also steal your identity. How do they do it? In order to “start the job,” you’ll more than likely have to fill out a credit report or your “employer” will ask you to provide your banking information for direct deposit.
2. Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
Climbing up from No. 7 to No. 2, sweepstakes and lottery scams remain prevalent in their many shapes and forms. No matter how you see it, fraudsters try to convince you that you’ve won a ton of cash. But wait — there’s more! In order to receive your winnings, you first have to send them a bit of money to cover taxes or other bogus fees.
3. Social Media/Online Dating Scams
With the growing popularity of online dating websites and social media networks, it was only a matter of time before fraudsters started using these platforms for scams. There are many types of dating scams, but it all comes down to one thing: the victim falls in love and trusts the fraudster, who then tricks the victim into sending money or even financial information. Social media scams are a bit trickier to catch, often involving links to videos that prompt you to upgrade your Flash player. When you download the file, you also download a worm that logs into your social media account and sends a similar message to your friends. The worm will also scour your computer for your personal information.
4. Home Improvement Scams
In the past two years, the number of natural disasters has significantly increased — and so has the number of itinerant home improvement scammers. Just like n tornado, they leave your house looking like more of a disaster than they found it. And just like an earthquake, they’re gone before you can blink your eyes. If a repair man comes knocking on your door, ask for a business card and do some homework to find out who they really are.
5. Check Cashing Scams
Also known as an over-payment scam — No. 10 on the BBB’s Top 10 Scams of 2011 —the check cashing scam involves one sender, one receiver, and one bad check. The sender “accidentally” mails a check to the receiver for an amount greater than what they owe. The receiver cashes the check and wires the difference back to the sender, immediately debiting the funds from the checking account. A few days later, the original check bounces, and the receiver is out whatever money they wired.
6. Phishing Scams
In 2009, phishing emails regarding the H1N1 virus were particularly widespread. In 2008, they targeted consumers expecting packages from FedEx or UPS, and tricked them into divulging personal information. What’s the top phishing email scam to look out for in 2012? This year, it comes in the form of NACHA — the National Automated Clearing House Association. The fictitious email claims one of your transactions did not process, and prompts you to click a on a link to rectify the situation. Once you click the link, you’ve downloaded malware that hunts for your personal data on your computer.
7. Identity Theft Scams
Whether it’s through phishing, vishing, smishing, security breaches, or good ol’ fashioned wallet theft, identity theft remains rampant. This year, be on the lookout for phone calls in the middle of the night — to your hotel room. That’s right. Scammers will call you up in the middle of the night while you’re sound asleep, pose as the front desk clerk, and ask for your credit card number. Their reason being their computer has crashed and your transaction won’t process. Don’t believe them. Hotel concierge more than likely won’t disturb you in the middle of the night unless it’s an emergency. It’s not hospitable.
8. Financial Scams
Rolling in at No. 2 as the Debt Relief and Settlement Services Scam in 2011, financial scams almost always leave you in more debt than when you started. We understand that times are tough. You may be in danger of having your house foreclosed on, or maybe you have too much consumer debt. Either way, do ample amounts of research before you decide to use third-party assistance for getting out of debt.
9. Sales Scams
From Ponzi and pyramid schemes to the door-to-door con man, sales scams come in a wide range of forms. Advance fee loan scams ranked in at No. 9 in 2011. This year, sales scams are taking form in penny auction websites. Although there are many legitimate penny auction merchants, some are under investigation as being an online gambling site.
10. BBB Email Scam
Just this morning I received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org stating one of our customers filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The email included an ID number and prompted me to open the complaint report for more information. When I hovered over the anchor text, (“COMPLAINT REPORT”), the URL was not going to send me to BBB.org. Instant red flag sign of a phishing email.
Instabill is an online payment processor specializing in high risk merchant accounts.