Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington investigates fraud reports throughout the year and reveals some of the most common scams of 2011
- BBB Phishing Frustrations: Businesses and organizations around the country are receiving fraudulent complaint forms from scammers who are abusing BBB's name and reputation.
- Penny Auction Problems: Buyers are often unaware of the total costs involved with penny auctions and great deals often turn out to be not so great.
- Mortgage Relief Misleaders: Homeowners are tricked into paying large upfront fees for mortgage relief services and then companies disappear abruptly.
- Hotel Hoaxes: Hotel guests receive calls in their rooms - often late at night - claiming that front desk computers have crashed and credit card numbers are needed again; victims provide information, but callers are not hotel employees.
- Fraudulent Phishing: Consumers respond to emails from banks or shopping sites requesting verification of personal information. Those who click enclosed links or provide personal information may encounter computer viruses and identity theft.
- Check Cashing Cons: Sellers receive checks for more than items are worth and are instructed to wire excess money back. Checks later bounce and victims are responsible for lost funds.
- Cheating Contractors: Homeowners are left with little recourse after door-to-door repairmen promise incredible deals, require large upfront fees and then skip out before completing work.
- Social Media Scams: Victims are sent "popular" viral videos on social networking sites, but must upgrade software to view files. Downloads may install malware or viruses that place victims at risk for identity theft.
- Lousy Foreign Lotteries: Recipients receive mail and email notices claiming lottery winnings from overseas, but small upfront fees are "required" for taxes; after funds are wire transferred internationally, prize money never arrives.
- Swindling Sweepstakes: Consumers who did not enter sweepstakes are informed that they have won large sums of money or other prizes and must pay smaller sums in order to collect; payments are made and nothing is received.
- Secret Shopper Schemes: Job hunters submit online applications to "employers" and pay advance fees for work-from-home secret shopper materials; victims are left without money or jobs.
Report scams to BBB through Scam Source at bbb.org/scam-source. To find reputable businesses, visit bbb.org/find-business-reviews.