Better Business Bureau: How does the FTC rate Victoria?
The Federal Trade Commission recently released its Consumer Sentinel Network report for 2011. How did Victoria do? In the area of identity theft, we made progress.
We were the 154th worst metro area in the country out of the 374 metro areas. That's not bad, considering Corpus Christi ranked 44th. And what about fraud? We did much better, ranking 369th out of 374.
The No. 1 type of fraud concerned debt collectors. Overall in the nation, identity theft decreased by five percent while fraud increased by six percent. There will be those that dispute the decrease in identity theft and there are other studies that claim it has increased. BBB is a major contributor to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel Network.
If you like statistic, you may view the 105 page report at ftc.gov and search for Consumer Sentinel.
Hassle is over
I know you have experienced this: The automated phone calls came from "Stacey with account holder services." She prompted you to "press 1" to get more information. Waiting on the other end was a live telemarketer who pitched worthless car warranty extensions or interest-reduction programs. It was all bogus. And now it's all over.
The Federal Trade Commission put a stop to Stacey and the major telemarketing operation behind her. Since January 2008, the Los Angeles-based operation carpet-bombed U.S. consumers with more than 2 billion illegal phone calls.
In April 2009, the company made 2.4 million calls in one day alone - that is the equivalent of 27 calls per second - according to information a telephone service provider shared with the FTC.
"Telemarketers need to understand that blasting consumers with robocall pitches is no longer legal," says the FTC "Unless you have someone's consent up-front and in writing to receive a robocall, just don't do it. The rules could not be simpler than that, and we will go after telemarketers who ignore them."
Watch out for e-book scam
With the growing popularity of e-books, scammers have found ways to capitalize on this new method of buying books. There are two main types of e-book fraud. The first is content farming, which consists of creating automatically generated content, web-collected content or fake content, turning it into an e-book, and then selling it.
The second type of fraud consists of scammers stealing an author's book and then selling it as an e-book, even though they don't own the copyright. Scammers can easily fool consumers into buying the book by using multiple fake identities to give the book good reviews, which give the "author" a good reputation. BBB reminds consumers don't be taken in by great reviews that accompany cheap e-books.
Fake check scam
The Internet Crime Complaint Center continues to receive reports of counterfeit check schemes targeting U.S. law firms. The scammers contact lawyers via e-mail, claiming to be overseas and requesting legal representation in collecting a debt from third parties located in the U.S.
The law firms receive a retainer agreement and a check payable to the law firm. The firm is instructed to deposit the check, take out retainer fees, and wire the remaining funds to banks in China, Korea, Ireland, or Canada. After the funds are wired overseas, the checks are determined to be counterfeit.
There are several variations to this scam. This activity illustrates the fact that there are scams out there that target almost every type of business. No one seems to be immune.
Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.