BBB Suggests Top Scams to Avoid

BBB Suggests Top Scams to Avoid

CREATED Mar 18, 2009

In tough times, scam artists are taking advantage of people who are trying to keep their money safe and sound.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates teamed up with the Better Business Bureau to help educate and protect consumers from the top scams. 

A special phone bank was set up Wednesday afternoon for people to ask questions, report a company, file a complaint or to get more information about a company.

Kathleen Calligan with the BBB suggested the top scams to avoid.

Number five on the list was the mystery-shopper scam.

The scam artists run advertisements looking for secret shoppers, offering cash to check out stores. The problem is that they send a counterfeit check, usually for thousands of dollars, and then ask you to send several hundred dollars back.

The next scam the BBB said to watch out for was the foreclosure-rescue scam. More people fall victim to this scam as they fall behind on their mortgages.

"They show up at your home and they give you the hope that you're going to be able to stay in your home," said Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan.

The third scam to avoid was the stimulus-package scam.

After President Barrack Obama signed the economic stimulus plan into law, websites started offering free advice on how to obtain government grants.

The websites claim they can help you get grants to pay your bills or get out of debt. The government does not give grants like that, and the BBB has found that consumers who have turned to these companies often find charges for services on their credit cards.

Credit-repair scams are the second scam on the BBB's top list. The scam promised to raise your credit score or erase bad debt for a price.

Brenda Bell fell victim to the scam.

"They said some things that were on my credit report - they were going to take them off," said Bell.

The company charged Bell $250 and promised that her credit score would be higher within six months, but she said it never changed.

"It is the most misleading and untruthful ad we have out there today," said Calligan.

The top business practice to avoid was the debt-negotiation scam where companies claim they will get you out of debt and lower an upfront fee.

The BBB said some companies take your money and run, and you wind up even deeper in debt.

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