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Better Business Bureau warns Winter Olympic fans to watch for scams

By By Tracy Bracy
Feb. 10, 2014 at 3:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 9, 2014 at 8:10 p.m.


All around the world, millions are watching the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. But with the games come the possibility of scams.

The Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to keep their eyes peeled for fraudulent emails, merchandise and tickets.

Official Olympic merchandise is available through a number of sources, but counterfeit goods and outright scams are everywhere.

A recent search on eBay showed 5,693 items for Sochi 2014. Many were authentic re-sales, but some were fraudulent. The most impressive item was the "Olympic Torch Sochi 2014. Yours for just $7,000."

Here are scams that may pop up in the wake of the Olympics:

Fake emails and websites. Scammers in the past have sent out emails and developed websites that either claim a relationship with the Olympics or look similar to the official Olympic page. If you receive an email that looks fishy, don't click on any links and make sure to delete the email and run a virus scan immediately.

Fake Olympic merchandise. If you are purchasing some Winter Olympics gear, don't be duped by cheap replicas. The official Sochi website has a section that helps you avoid fake gear. Visit the official site (Sochi2014.com) and click "authentication" at the top right to check if your merchandise is the real deal.

Fake tickets. Tickets for the Sochi games are only available through the official website and their appointed ticketing partners. If you receive offers from other sources, the tickets are either being sold illegally or may be fake.

Scam alert: 'One ring' cellphone scam rings up charges

Your cellphone could make you a victim of the "one ring" scam, and it could cost you. The Better Business Bureau, serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin, is warning cellphone users to be cautious when returning calls from unknown numbers.

Consumers in several states report receiving calls on their mobile phones in which an unknown caller hangs up after one ring. With this scam, a computer program sends thousands of calls to random cellphone numbers, rings once and then disconnects.

When the cellphone owner returns the call, they are billed $19.95 for the international call fee. They may hear music and then advertising while they are unknowingly connected to a caller-paid toll service or chat line located outside the country. At $9 per minute, these calls can add up quickly. The best thing to do if you receive a call from an international number you don't recognize is not answer and do not call back.

If you have fallen for this scam, be sure to alert your cellphone carrier immediately and keep an eye on you cellphone bill.

You can also contact your cellphone service provider to see if you can restrict third-party billing on your account. Be sure to keep track of what services you pay for - that way, you will be able to determine if any charges are unauthorized.

Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by email at info@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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