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Top BBB scams prey on those with money troubles

Word to the wary: There's a scammer who might be out to get you. That's the message from the Better Business Bureau, which recently released its 2010 list of the top 10 most-reported consumer scams. The annual list is based on complaints filed at 132 BBB offices. Here's the list:

Job hunting: Scams targeting job hunters include online attempts to steal personal information, such as bank account or Social Security numbers, as well as phony job offers requiring an up-front fee.

Debt-relief services: The 30 percent jump in complaints last year were primarily due to high up-front fees or no results that left consumers deeper in debt.

Work-from-home: Some claim they'll teach the "secrets" of making money online, others promise paid work assembling items at home or being a mystery shopper.

Reselling time shares: Time-share owners claiming they have an eager buyer. Sellers pay several thousand dollars to "cover fees," then never hear from the company again.

'Free' trial offers: In these offers for diet supplements, penny auctions and moneymaking schemes, consumers complain of getting billed every month and/or difficulty canceling their "free trial offer" contract.

Home/roof repair: Beware of door-to-door salesmen who fail to deliver on promises to fix the roof, patch the driveway or do other home repairs.

Lottery/sweepstakes: Victims receive a "congratulatory" letter or phone call claiming to be from Reader's Digest, Publishers Clearing House or a foreign lottery and are conned into wiring hundreds of dollars to cover bogus fees or taxes on their nonexistent "winnings."

Identity theft: It can happen several ways: mail theft, phishing e-mails, phony text messages, computer hacking, a corporate data breach.

Advance-fee loans: Victims are told they qualify for large loans but must first pay up-front fees, often more than $1,000. The victim wires the money but never receives a loan.

Overpayment schemes: These typically target landlords, small-business owners or individuals with rooms to rent or items to sell in newspaper classified ads or on Craigslist. The scammers overpay by check, then ask to have the extra wired back to them. Often, the check is forged and the victim is out the money.

Top BBB scams prey on those with money troubles 02/21/11 [Last modified: Monday, February 21, 2011 8:18pm]
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