Better Business Bureau: Strange "credits" on your statement

Sept. 24, 2011 at 4:24 a.m.

By Alan Bligh

A local consumer called us the other day and reported a situation she thought we should pass on to our readers. A very good idea. She had received several monthly statements from her energy company that said she had a credit of some $30. Then out of the blue, she gets a statement for over $1,000. Yep, the energy company had experienced a computer glitch that produced the incorrect statements. The consumer owed the money but as the caller explained, that is difficult on a fixed income. Yes, she owes the money - a mistake doesn't mean the company has to eat the debt. The lesson here is that if you see a credit on a statement from anyone that you do not understand, you need to contact that company immediately or you may wind up in a jam. Suspicious ad

This past week, we were informed about yet another small business identity theft situation. Some schemer had put a job listing on Craigslist using the name of a local Coastal Bend medical clinic. The ad claimed the local clinic was looking for a receptionist and gave the particulars of the job. Those who saw the ad and were interested were to send an email indicating their interest. The schemer then responds with directions for the applicant to take a psychological test online. Eventually, the job applicant is asked to pay a fee. The job applicant, of course, loses their money. The local medical clinic that had nothing to do with this and does not have a job opening is then bombarded with calls from the now mad job applicants. Air conditioner thieves

Police are hot on the trail of crooks who steal air conditioners, copper cables and wires. The perpetrators sell the copper on the black market to scrap metal dealers or to recycling centers for quick cash. Unfortunately, many homes and businesses fall prey to these thieves because their air conditioning units are outside and unprotected, making them easy to steal. There's a new Texas law to crack down on copper theft. Lawmakers passed it to protect the property of homeowners and utility companies. Customers are now required to provide documentation when bringing A/C units or other copper materials to a scrap yard. Homeowners must show a proof of purchase to prove that a central heating or air conditioning unit is theirs. Fake Blue Book website

As you know, Kelley Blue Book is the leading provider of new car and used car information. BBB warns online car buyers of a scam using a fake Kelley Blue Book website. The scams try to solicit funds from buyers via an escrow-based, non-existent guaranteed buyer-protection program. Car shoppers should be aware that imitation websites have a similar look-and-feel to the actual site and they should be attentive to the domain name and email address provided by the seller. Typically, a seller will list a car that they do not own on a reputable vehicle listings website. Emails from the seller often provide a story about a divorce or military deployment that requires fast liquidation of the vehicle at a low price.

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



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