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Better Business Bureau: More unclaimed property scams

Oct. 22, 2011 at 5:22 a.m.


By Alan Bligh

As people are becoming more aware of the different kinds of unclaimed property out there and the very real possibility that money could be waiting for them, Better Business Bureau reports a scam that uses the promise of finding unclaimed money to lure people in.

This new scam comes in the form of an email telling people they have "millions of dollars" in unclaimed money. The message appears to come from the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, and directs consumers to call an overseas telephone number to claim their supposed money. Scammers intend to get personal information from people such as their bank account information, credit card information and Social Security number. According to ClaimItTexas.org, the official state of Texas unclaimed property website, one in four Texans has unclaimed property from forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, security deposits and utility refunds.

If you are interested in searching for unclaimed property, BBB offers the following advice:

Ignore email notifications.

Don't give out bank account information.

Avoid paying a fee.

Be cautious of unknown callers.

Search certified databases such as www.unclaimed.org.

Today, I wanted to discuss those prescreened or pre-approved offers in the mail. Many of us get them sometimes on a daily basis. Most of these end up in the trash can, usually unopened. The most common products marketed in this manner are credit cards, but other loan products and even insurance policies are sold this way.

People have asked BBB how they got on the mailing lists for these offers of credit. They also want to know what impact the offers may have on their credit records. Pre-approved offers of credit are based on information in your credit report that indicates you meet criteria established by the lender. For example, the lender may require that you have a credit score above a certain level. And the answer to the second question is that those inquiries generated by these prescreened requests from vendors does not negatively impact on your credit score. If you do not like these offers you can opt out. To opt out for five years, call (888) 5-OPT-OUT (888-567-8688) or go to optoutprescreen.com. Opting out won't stop solicitations that are based on lists from sources other than the credit reporting agencies, such as professional and alumni associations. It also has no effect on your ability to apply for or obtain credit and you can always opt back in at a later date.

Last year, consumers turned to the Better Business Bureau 87 million times to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities. Now they can have that information in the palm of their hand with the release of the official BBB Search app, a convenient, mobile BBB solution available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app was approved by the Apple Store and is available for download. BBB Search features include:

Search for local businesses by name, phone, URL, or category type

Search via your current location or specified city, state or ZIP code

BBB Search 1.1 is available as a free app download on Apple's iOS App Store for devices running iOS 3.1 or higher. An Internet connection is required.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at abligh@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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