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Better Business Bureau: BBB offers advice to avoid common scams

March 24, 2014 at 4:05 p.m.
Updated March 23, 2014 at 10:24 p.m.


Whether it comes as an email, phone call or text message, scams are difficult to escape. Scammers will do whatever they can to rip you off; it's important to be on your guard.

Many times, con artists will try and build your trust through emotion or by offering something that seems too good to be true (because most often it is). Sometimes, scammers focus their efforts on the elderly, the most vulnerable and trusting, because they know they will be able to gain trust quicker with less effort. However, with technology today, we're all vulnerable.

Better Business Bureau gets thousands of complaints every year from consumers who are taken advantage of by scammers. Here are some typical scams to be wary of:

Lottery or sweepstakes scams

Victims typically receive a letter in the mail from a supposed lottery or organization claiming they have won a substantial prize. The catch is that the victims are required to wire hundreds of dollars back to the scammers, allegedly to cover taxes or other admin fees.

Job scams

•  These scams come in a variety of forms but typically are either bogus work-at-home opportunities, mystery shopping offers or phony job postings on websites.

The common thread in most job scams is that they require some form of advance fee.

Door to door scams

Depending on the time of year, scammers employ several door-to-door schemes on unsuspecting consumers. The bureau is aware of product pitches from magazine sales, food items or phony contractors offering repair services after a severe storm.

Consumers generally contact the bureau after they have paid substantial advance fees or paid in full for products or services that were never performed or delivered.

Phishing attempts

Emails or ads on social media websites and search engine results pages take various forms such as appearing to be from a business, a government agency or even a friend.

Whatever the setup, the goal of any phishing attempt is to trick victims into providing sensitive information or infect their computer with viruses and malware.

The bureau has found that scammers target during periods of the year when people are likely to spend more money than usual. This includes events like major holidays and tax-free weekends.

Additionally, the bureau uses the phrase "today's headlines are tomorrow's scams" often because scammers try to leverage attention or curiosity with a national issue into a way to steal money or personal information.

How can you prevent falling for a scam? The bureau advises consumers to never wire money, especially to an organization or someone you don't know. Also, never pay money in advance for major repair work or for job applications. Finally, avoid curiosity and don't click on links or open emails from people you don't know.

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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