Better Business Bureau: Two major holiday scams
By Alan Bligh
Dec. 15, 2012 at 6:15 a.m.
Ah, Christmas is almost upon us. Usually consumers are less cautious during the holidays due to all of the hustle and bustle. So it's time to remind you to watch out for these two holiday scams.
Holiday e-card scam: You receive an eGreeting from an unnamed "relative" or "friend," and you have to click on a link to view it. However, clicking on the link could unleash malicious spyware or viruses. In some cases, nothing bad happens until you download software from the e-card website so you can "run your e-card."
Delivery scams: In this case, you receive a card saying an unsuccessful attempt was made to deliver a package to your home and directs you to call for more details. When you call the number, you get a recorded message or are kept on hold. In the end, the number you've called is a foreign number and you are charged high rates for the call, or you are asked for a fee for having the package redelivered.
Beware phony loan companies
Many people are looking for help getting out of debt or hanging on to their home. Scammers pose as representatives from phony loan companies and use authentic-looking documents, emails and websites to fool consumers into parting with their money. Some sound like a government agency, the BBB or other nonprofit consumer organizations. Most ask for an upfront fee to help you deal with your mortgage company, creditors or the government (services you could do yourself for free). These scams leave you in more debt than when you started. They all have a common theme: Victims pay a smaller amount of money in anticipation of something of greater value but then you receive nothing in return. And as we always say. you should not send a wire transfer to receive a loan or a credit card. If in doubt about a promotion, check them out at bbb.org.
BBB has received numerous calls from consumers who appear to be the target of a Medicare-Medicaid scam. Consumers state that the callers offer to send them new Medicare cards, including ones that offered extra benefits, and then the consumer is asked for the name of their bank. These schemers can be very aggressive, often calling many times and at all hours of the day to wear down potential victims. They may have limited information about the person that's easily obtained from public databases that they use to make the call seem legitimate. Remember: Medicare-Medicaid and the Social Security Administration will not call you to update information or issue a new card. If you get one of these calls, hang up and report it to the Golden Triangle Area Agency on Aging.
Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at email@example.com.