Better Business Bureau: Readers Digest Scam

Sept. 3, 2011 at 4:03 a.m.

By Alan Bligh

First off, I wanted to thank Bryan Serold, one of our regular Victoria Advocate readers, for contacting us concerning a letter that his wife had received supposedly from Reader's Digest. The letter claimed that she had won a $14,489,95 surplus jackpot. Mr. Serold thought this was strange since they had not entered any contests. He did not call the number provided in the letter to claim the prize and instead, believing it to be a scam, contacted me. Our consumer did the right thing in contacting us so that we could warn others. He was also very smart in not replying to the schemers. You never know what's going to happen when you reply to a scammer, either by phone, fax or email.

Protect personal info

BBB once again warns residents against giving out personal information to unknown callers. Scammers have recently been using the name of local law firms to trick victims into giving out bank information, credit card numbers and other private information. Victims report receiving calls from individuals using a fake name and an untraceable phone number, who say they work with a local law firm. The callers, who usually have a heavy accent, claim the firm is suing the victim on behalf of a payday loan provider. The caller goes on to say the victim defaulted on a loan and demands payment and other personal information.

Is it 'official'?

Security researchers are reporting a wave of malicious emails posing as official notifications from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The rogue emails bear a subject of "FDIC notification" and have their headers spoofed to appear as originating from an address. As in most spam emails, the body message is full of mistakes, which should serve as indication that it did not originate from a government agency. The fake emails contain an attachment named When expanded, one of the zip files contains a computer Trojan that serves as a distribution platform for other malware. This means that running it will probably result in multiple infections. Bottom line: Don't open strange zip files.

Pest treatments

The extreme heat the Coastal Bend has been experiencing the past few months is prompting critters, bugs and other pests to seek shelter in many homes and office buildings. Since January, BBB has received more than 12,500 inquiries on pest control companies. Of the complaints we have received, most allege that treatments were not effective and pests were not fully exterminated. Other complaints allege issues over the final cost of the services or the payment process. BBB recommends the following when choosing an exterminator:

Start with trust. Check any pest control company's BBB Business Review before signing a contract at

Compare price quotes.

Ask about safety and risks.

Read the fine print.

Check for licensing and insurance.

Don't fall for this robo call

Consumers in various parts of the country are reporting to BBB that they are receiving auto-dial telephone calls on both cell and land line telephones with messages telling them that their debit cards have been frozen, and they need to press 1 to correct the problem. As soon as they do that, it tells them to press 2 and enter their card number. You have got to be kidding me. Do people really fall for this? If you respond to this robo call, and give your personal info, you are handing it over to the scammers and not an official entity. Don't reply to the call, and hang up immediately. If you feel you are a victim, report it to your bank ASAP, file a police report, and regularly check and monitor all accounts for any fraudulent activity.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at



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