Better Business Bureau: Beware of phishing scams

Aug. 18, 2014 at 1:12 p.m.
Updated Aug. 18, 2014 at 6:16 p.m.

To avoid phishing scams, never give out personal information. Don't reply to an email that is asking you to reply with personal information. Also, beware of suspicious links. Do not click on any links from anyone who you are unfamiliar with.

These files can contain viruses or other malware that can weaken your computer's security.

Finally, when in doubt, press delete. Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often the way cyber criminals compromise your computer.

Scholarship scams

The college fall semester will kick off soon, so now is the time to beware of scams targeting students. Scholarships and financial aid are a great way to help with the high cost of education. Before you think about last-minute financial assistance, the Better Business Bureau wants you to be wary of financial-aid fraud.

When researching financial aid, do your homework before you do anything. Avoid scholarship services that claim you are guaranteed to receive money.

Also, avoid services that claim any student is eligible to receive the scholarship.

If you decide to attend an information seminar on scholarships or financial aid, be aware this is most likely a sales pitch for scholarship services.

Online shopping

The Internet has made shopping a cinch, allowing consumers to avoid crowds and putting countless products at their fingertips. Shopping online means avoiding the crowds, but it also opens buyers up to scam artists and unscrupulous retailers.

The bureau advises shoppers review a seller's reputation and record for satisfaction at

Find an accredited business using the bureau website's member pages, and check out the company's business review before purchasing anything from a website.

Beware of offers on websites and in unsolicited emails offering extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Be sure to read all conditions associated with the return policy. Look on the site for a street address and phone number and verify whether those are valid - if these aren't listed, that's a red flag.

Senior scams

Nationwide, criminals steal billions of dollars each year from senior citizens. Seniors are often targets of scam artists because they generally are more trusting of others and perceived to be easier to persuade. They also typically have more free time and tend to make decisions by themselves.

Common scams against seniors include sweepstakes and lotteries scams, Medicare scams, fake loved ones in need of money and door-to-door sales or services.

The bureau recommends families help educate the elderly in their family to help keep them from being scammed. It's a good idea to research any company with BBB first, before making a purchase or claiming a prize. Have your local bureau's phone number available to elderly so they can easily call if they are skeptical about a situation.Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by email at



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