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  • BBB April 2021 Hot Topics

     

    1. Gift card scams remain a major problem. One local consumer reported to BBB she received an email regarding a secret shopper/survey opportunity. After applying, she received a check in the mail with instructions to purchase gift cards and send images of the gift cards to the scammer. As a reminder, beware of anyone asking you to send photos of gift card information and never agree to pay bills via a gift card.
    2. Puppy scams often involve fake breeders selling non-existent puppies, but in the case of one local consumer, these scams also involve very sick animals. This consumer reported to BBB he is out $10,000 in veterinary bills after his new puppy arrived extremely ill with parvovirus. The breeders who sold him the puppy had refused to provide any references. When purchasing a new puppy, always ask to see references first and, whenever possible, view the puppy in person before buying.
    3. Beware of scam emails or texts claiming to be from PayPal. A local consumer received one saying there was a large transaction on his account and he must call to dispute the charge. This is a phishing scam – don’t respond!
    4. Local consumers – and some BBB employees --- have received text messages claiming they have Amazon Rewards credits. These text messages are a scam – do not click on any links! The links will take you to a fake website where scammers will steal your personal information! 
    5. BBB has received multiple reports of free trial scams, and some are trying to capitalize on the Covid-19 pandemic. One local consumer responded to a free trial purporting to offer a product endorsed by Dr. Fauci. These “free trials” are usually followed up by expensive monthly subscription fees.
    6. Be cautious of scam sites spoofing or mimicking legitimate websites. One local consumer attempting to file a change-of-address lost $80 after using a site that looked very similar to USPS.com. If you are concerned a website isn’t legitimate, leave the site immediately and do not enter any payment or other personal information.
    7. Beware of Political Action Committees (PACS) masquerading as charities. One local consumer received calls and emails soliciting donations from one such group. These organizations are often misleading about how they use the donations they receive. Before you donate, research the charity or organization by visiting BBB.org.
    8. Beware of scam apps known as fleeceware. Appearing on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, these deceptive apps lure users in with free trials before charging high subscription rates and have cost consumers more than $400 million. Many of the apps are image editors, camera filters, and games; they tend to target teens and children. BBB recommends parents and caregivers monitor their children’s phone use and downloads. 
    9. Did a stranger “accidentally pay” you on Venmo? BBB warns that consumers should be wary of random payments from strangers; often the payment is sent via a stolen credit card. When victims return the payment, scammers remove the stolen credit card and replace it with their own card. Chances of victims receiving reimbursement are slim to none.
    10. Scammers are opening Chase bank accounts using stolen identities. Victims have reported receiving information on accounts they never opened. Keep your personal information off the internet as much as possible and regularly check your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com for unfamiliar accounts opened in your name.