L et’s take a look at where we’ve been in 2012 to learn what to avoid in 2013.
10. Advance fee: There was a surge in the number of employment, for sale and home for rent scams that were perpetrated over Internet listing services. TIPS: If you can’t inspect the RVs, painting job or home, you better not be doing business with the posting person.
9. Brand spoofing: Watch for emails, text messages and websites that appear to be well-known businesses, financial institutions and government agencies. Most appear to be “phishing” for your personal or financial information. TIPS: If you receive these messages, hit the delete key.
8. Microsoft virus: The caller alleges to be from Microsoft, claiming you have a virus on your computer. To make repairs, they must have remote access to the computer. Once granted access, they’ll hold you hostage, demanding a credit card payment to make a repair. TIPS: Microsoft and software companies do not watch your computer but send updates through the Internet. Hang up.
7. FBI watching: A window suddenly pops up on your computer screen with a warning from the FBI declaring you’ve been on a “forbidden” site. It orders you to pay a fine of $75 to $220 or risk arrest. TIPS: A virus has infected your computer. Take your computer to a BBB-accredited computer repair shop and upgrade your virus protection.
6. International lottery: The caller says you won a lottery. Payment is demanded to cover taxes, processing fees, administrative costs or expediting funds. TIPS: Never pay an upfront fees or taxes to collect any prize.
5. Disaster or charitable contributions: Most legitimate relief agencies are too busy in the midst of a crisis like Hurricane Sandy to be calling people, asking for donations. TIPS: Take your time and research the organization at bbb.org before giving.
4. Work-at-home: Job offers tied to pre-employment payment, upfront demands for training, background checks or website development are making money off you. TIPS: If you need work, find a BBB-accredited temporary employment agency.
3. 419 scam: It pitches a foreigner who is desperate to move millions of dollars from a foreign country and needs access to your bank account. TIPS: Ask yourself how this person found you to be a “trusted” individual.
2. Grandparent scam: The callers target elderly people by pretending to be a grandchild in danger and in need of money.TIPS: Hang up. Call a family member to check the location of the grandchild in question.
1. Penny auctions: The online penny auction Zeek Rewards was shut down this year as a Ponzi scheme. TIPS: Pay attention to details in signup, annual fees, minimum bidding requirements, maximum prizes and refund details.
Robb Hicken: 947-2115