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Better Business Bureau: Steve Jobs Scams

Oct. 29, 2011 at 5:29 a.m.


By Alan Bligh

They don't show any signs of stopping or even slowing down. In fact they seem to be escalating. I am referring to those telemarketing scams coming out of the Caribbean. Especially dominant are those calls from Jamaica and Puerto Rico. For example, one consumer called last week and told us that his mother had received a call supposedly from a government agency that wanted to know her Social Security number. When she refused, the caller said that a sheriff's deputy would be at her home within an hour to arrest her because she didn't give the information. She was smart and hung up on the caller. The area code indicated that the call was from Puerto Rico. So if you get a call from someone you do not know and they want information of any kind - hang up.

SEEKING ANOTHER INCOME SOURCE

If asked, it would probably be safe to say that many Americans would say they use a debit card over cash whenever making a purchase. As of Oct. 1, banks are allowed to charge retailers only 21 cents per card swipe, which is 23 cents less than the 44 cents they previously charged. While this decrease in fee will be good for retailers, it has left some banks scrambling for another source of income to make up for what they are expected to lose. To solve this problem, many banks have decided to start charging a monthly fee for using debit cards. While fees have not been announced, it has been reported that some banks will be charging as much as $5 per month. So that you're prepared, check your bank's latest fee schedule for details on changes.

WEBSITE LURES PEOPLE IN

Tragedy struck when the tech world lost an iconic visionary known as Steve Jobs. Not surprisingly, while most of the world paid respects and held tributes to the man, heartless scammers decided to take advantage of the situation with a brand new ploy. Some scammers have set up a website at stevejobsfuneral.com, which attempts to collect email addresses by luring people into a contest to win a MacBook Pro by asking people to enter in a sweepstakes. And while stevejobsfuneral.com might be the biggest Steve Jobs-related scam right now, you can be sure it won't be the last, at least not for awhile. As usual, be wary of links you click, even if they were shared to you by a friend. Always get your news from official websites.

TAX LOANS CAN BE SLIPPERY SLOPE

Property taxes can pile up quickly when not paid on time. Some lenders offer to pay off back property taxes and stop interest and penalties from accruing, while allowing property owners to pay back the loan in installments over many years. However, BBB warns property tax loans can also be a slippery slope that can lead to foreclosure and other financial difficulties. Tax collectors say "Get all the facts, and then make an intelligent decision." Note that these types of loans do not stop foreclosure. They simply transfer the tax lien to a private company, which can then foreclose for nonpayment. Most tax assessor-collectors' offices are more than willing to work with property owners to make payment arrangements.

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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