Better Business Bureau: Laptops and motel rooms
The FBI recently issued a warning to consumers about "malicious schemers targeting travelers when they are establishing an Internet connection in their hotel rooms.
The FBI determined that once consumers were logging on to their computer attempting to connect to the Internet they were being presented with a pop-up window notifying them to update their software.
The pop-up appeared to be offering a routine update to software for which updates are frequently available. Those consumers who accepted and installed the updates were really installing malicious software to their computers.
Those who travel take extra caution before updating software products through their hotel Internet connection.
Government grant used as fraud
Your BBB has recently been receiving phone inquiries from consumers who are suspicious of calls they've received about qualifying for a government grant. This has become a popular means of defrauding people as many are not familiar with government grants and are not sure if they might qualify for one.
Believe me, grants are not easy to come by and there is always an in-depth process that applicants must go through before they are awarded anything.
So, if you didn't apply for a grant and you receive one of these calls, someone is trying to scam you.
These scammers are not affiliated with the government or any reputable organizations. They are criminals who are seeking financial information in an effort to get money from those they target - not award money.
When a business closes
I just hate getting calls that a business has closed its doors. So from a consumer's viewpoint what is your recourse when you've paid for or ordered something through a business that all of a sudden closes?
Well, the business is still obligated to provide the goods or services that have been paid for, or issue a refund if they can no longer provide the goods. If you find yourself in this situation:
Write to the owner and keep copies of your correspondence. Mail is usually forwarded when a business closes.
If you paid via credit card, write to your credit card company to dispute the charges. Under federal law, you have 60 days after the charge first appears on a bill (this doesn't work if you paid with a debit card).
Contact the landlord to inquire about gaining access to merchandise inside the property.
Check to see if the company has filed for bankruptcy.
Door-to-door salesmen complaints
After receiving hundreds of complaints against companies using aggressive door-to-door sales tactics to pressure consumers into buying bogus or misleading products, BBB is issuing an alert about such companies.
The issues range from magazine subscriptions that were paid for but never delivered, to food products that were not of the high quality originally promised.
Some examples of high pressure sales tactics include hostile and persuasive rebuttals to consumer concerns, deep discounts offered upon immediate payment and refusal to take "no" for an answer.
Remember to check out such solicitors with BBB. You can tell a lot about their business from the salesman's demeanor when you tell them you are checking with BBB.
Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.