Better Business Bureau - April's Hot Topics

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1. Prepaid debit card scams are gaining popularity. In one scam, scam artists are calling consumers, posing as Duke Energy, threatening to turn a customer's power off if a payment is not made within the hour, using a prepaid debit card. The scam artist asks the consumer to purchase a prepaid debit card then instructs the consumer to call back with the card's number and PIN.


2. "499" Scam: A call comes from "499" on your cell phone. The person says they are with the security department for a bank (name) and your card has been deactivated for transactions due to suspicious activity. You are asked to key in your credit card number, expiration date, security code, and pin number. You are now told you can use your card. But, so can the scam artist.


3. WN Positions has an "F" rating with the BBB. Consumers filing complaints with the BBB say this is a robo-call work-at-home scam. The call begins with questions about a job survey.


4. Beware of fake Derby tickets. No doubt, some will pop up on sites like Craigslist. People can lose thousands of dollars on fake tickets. A major red flag: Scam artists often ask ticket seekers to send money via Western Union. Never wire money to someone you don't know.


5. Beware of "sound alike" names when giving to charities: They can confuse potential donors. An example came to BBB's attention when a consumer called to inquire about the "National Humane Society" after seeing a car raffle ad in a magazine. The consumer thought the raffle was to benefit the Humane Society of the United States, which is the national organization with state affiliates. BBB has limited information on the "National Humane Society." Don't let a name confuse you. Go to www.give.org to check out a non-profit organization before you give.


6. Property tax scam: You get a letter in the mail that appears to be from a government agency. It's really a private business, promising to get your property taxes reduced by disputing your tax assessment. The business charges $30 to hundreds of dollars. This could be a scam in which the "business" just pockets the money. Also, this is something homeowners can do themselves for free.


7. Change-My-Address.com is not affiliated with the US Postal Service. Consumers often run across this company when they search the internet for a change of address form. The website claims to change your address then charges a fee for the service. You can change your address directly at your local post office or at www.usps.com.