BBB Alert - Scams Against Consumers Increase As The Economy Worsens
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The owner and staff of My Wedding Reception Ideas take the security of your financial and personal information very seriously. We recently received an 'Increase of Scams' alert from the Better Business Bureau. As a proud member of the BBB, we want to share this important information to all of our visitors and customers.
 
Please read this important article to protect your self against low-life criminals and scammers during these tough economical times.
 
Raymond Miller
President

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Better Business Bureau Serving Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan, Inc.

 

Scams Against Consumers Increase As The Economy Worsens

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to protect themselves against scams that are already increasing as the economy slows and as consumers become fearful of the future.
 
FIRST: Many consumers are pulling their money out of their local banks or credit unions, apparently afraid that they will close. This is completely unnecessary. Deposits in banks and credit unions are fully insured up to $250,000 by either the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) or NCUA (National Credit Union Administration.
 
Pulling out the money puts an unnecessary strain on our local financial institutions. More importantly, it puts thousands of dollars in the purses, glove compartments and dresser drawers of consumers where this money can be the target of criminals or con artists. We are already hearing cases in other cities of robberies of consumers right after they have withdrawn their life savings. These can happen anywhere; even in the bank parking lot! Senior citizens are especially vulnerable. This is why we need banks; to protect our money!
 
SECOND: Con artists are calling consumers with fraudulent schemes to prey on their fears or deceive them.
 
* They may claim to be their bank or stock broker with urgent news. "A problem has developed with your mutual fund accounts and the money needs to be transferred immediately to a safer fund. I need to get your approval to go ahead with the transfer. Give me your name, Social Security number and account number for verification...."
 
* They claim to be government or IRS officials. "I'm calling from the Internal Revenue. As you have probably heard, the government has given approval for another $ 1,500 check to be sent to all consumers to help the economy. We have encountered a problem getting your deposit into your bank account. I need to get your account number...." (The pitch is nonsense. No additional government payment to consumers has been approved.)
 
* They claim to have exotic or secret investments that will recover lost money. "Our agency has an exclusive license to return overseas American dollars to this country. This is a multi-billion dollar service and our investors are currently seeing returns of 40% per month! I am allowing a small exclusive group of folks to invest $10,000 with us. You should start to get statements with your profit starting in 30 days or less." (These are often Ponzi schemes. Promoters invent phony deals and print up bogus statements to fool investors. If the deal sounds "too good to be true," it probably is.)
 
THIRD: Consumers and small businesspeople are hearing that credit is tightening and that loans are not available. They are worried. They need a loan for a car, or their child's college, or for operating expenses for their small business. They see an ad in a newspaper or on the internet: "Loans available now - guaranteed!"
 
They phone the company and are told that the firm works with international investors. The company salesman says: "Your credit situation is not nearly so bad. We have arranged loans for people with much worse credit histories than you! Please understand that we need an up-front fee of $795, but if the loan falls through we guarantee to return your money." (Actually advance-fee loans are illegal. These scammers - often from Canada, Nigeria or other foreign countries - will take your money, return to ask for more money, but never deliver a loan or a refund.)
 
FOURTH: FORCLOSURE RESCUE. Consumers with homes in foreclosure are contacted by swindlers who claim they can halt the process and save the home - for a fee. Consumers all over the country are receiving letters, phone calls and even personal visits from these people, who ask $450 to $1,500 in advance. Most make a few worthless phone calls and then disappear. Some actually try to have the victim sign over their house, claiming they will make payments and the consumer need only pay rent for a year. Actually they refinance the excess equity, pocket the money, then abandon the consumer - who loses the house anyway and owes even MORE money!
 
FIFTH: JOBS. As the economy softens, more workers are laid off. They are desperately seeking work, especially jobs they can perform at home. Ads promising "work at home" are almost always scams, but these con artists often advertise on internet sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com - even Craig's List.
 
"Overseas Agent needed. Our company is a textile manufacturer in Birmingham, England. Due to money exchange and tax law complications, we are seeking an American Agent who can serve as our representative. The person we select is welcome to work out of their home. Earnings are estimated at $50,000 and above. No prior experience is needed. To apply, send resume to _____"

Hundreds of consumers apply for these jobs. They may be asked for processing fees of $30 to several hundred dollars each. They are told, "You're hired" but have no idea that the "jobs" involve counterfeit checks, stolen credit card numbers, or other scams. They end up sending thousands of their own dollars overseas, then running the risk of being arrested for fraud!

The Better Business Bureau is extremely concerned over these and other scams, which will undoubtedly increase in the coming months. We URGE consumers to contact our office 1-800-743-4222 or visit the Better Business Bureau website BEFORE paying money or giving out personal information to strangers!
 
Dick Eppstein, BBB
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