Better Business Bureau: ATM Skimmer

It's no secret that politics are in the news. Just a couple of weeks to go. BBB is warning voters to be on the lookout for scams leading up to the presidential election. Here are a few recent scams reported to BBB:

The political survey free cruise offer. These public-opinion surveys typically offer a free cruise in exchange for participating in a quick telephone survey. However, at the end of the call consumers are asked for a form of payment to cover port fees and taxes.

Fundraising calls for political donations. Consumers have reported calls from organizations asking for donations. However, these calls may not really be related to either the Obama or Romney campaigns. Avoid providing your personal information over the phone.

Scammers claiming to check on your eligibility to vote.

These unsolicited emails and phone calls claim to be from someone representing our local election board or civic group. They ask for your Social Security or credit card number to confirm your eligibility or registration to vote.



Credit service settles charges

One of the largest consumer reporting agencies, Equifax Information Services, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it improperly sold lists of consumers who were late on their mortgage payments. In two separate actions, both Equifax and the companies that allegedly bought and resold the information will pay a total of nearly $1.6 million to resolve charges that they violated the FTC Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The two settlements are part of the FTC's ongoing efforts to protect consumers in financial distress and to protect consumer privacy. Equifax itself will pay $393,000 to resolve allegations that its inadequate procedures led to the sale of lists of consumer information to firms.

Consumers who attend those "free" educational seminars and workshops passing through town in hopes of becoming millionaires may have another thing coming: "The upsell." After listening to pitches, attendees are often convinced to pay upfront for training conferences, supplies, starter kits, or products. Further, BBB frequently hears stories of high-pressure sales tactics, unfulfilled promises and undelivered goods or services. Beware if advertisements, promotional materials and websites are claiming substantial income or profit with little effort or work required. And beware of contracts filled with asterisks, fine print and hard-to-understand language and lacking written cancellation instructions. If in doubt please call us. Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by e-mail at abligh@corpuschristi.bbb.org.