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Arlington, VA – Every year, Better Business Bureau receives thousands of calls and emails from consumers who have been scammed… or from the lucky ones who have dodged scams by being wary. The Council of Better Business Bureaus, the umbrella organization for the 113 local BBBs across the U.S. Auction Reseller Scam – Many people turn to Ebay and other online auctions sites to sell used items they no longer need, and relatively new electronics seem to do especially well.
Invisible Home Improvements – Home improvement scams vary little from year to year, and most involve some type of shoddy workmanship from unlicensed or untrained workers. Foreign Currency Scam – Investments in foreign currency can sound like a great idea, and scammers frequently use real current events and news stories to make their pitches even more appealing. Scam Texts – With online and mobile banking skyrocketing, it’s not a surprise that scams quickly follow. Fake Friend Scam – Did you ever get a Friend Request on Facebook from someone you already thought was your Friend?
For more information on investment scams, go to BBB Smart Investing, a partnership with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. With promises of a “free” medical alert system, the scam targeted seniors and caretakers and claimed to be offering the system free of charge because a family member or friend had already paid for it. But scammers have figured out a way to fool sellers into shipping goods without receiving payment.
In this scam, con artists are taking advantage of technology that can change what is visible on Caller ID, and allowing them to pose as the office of the local sheriff or other law enforcement agency. The hardest for homeowners to detect, and therefore the easiest for scammers to pull off, are repairs or improvements to the areas of your home that you can’t see: roofs, chimneys, air ducts, crawl spaces, etc. They advertise an easy investment with high return and low risk when you purchase Iraqi Dinar, Vietnamese Dong or, most recently, the Egyptian Pound.


One major tactic recently is the use of scam texts, known as “smishing,” to steal personal information.
Scammers call anyway, of course, and they’ve even found a way to scam consumers by pretending to be a government official calling to sign you up or confirming your previous participation on the Dot Not call list! Others are more narrowly focused, but take people for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Inmany cases, seniors were asked to provide their bank account or credit information to “verify” their identity and, as a result, were charged the monthly $35 service fee. Usually the buyer claims it’s an “emergency” of some sort – a child’s birthday, a member of the military shipping out – and asks the seller to ship the same day. They call to say there is a warrant out for your arrest, but that you can pay a fine in order to avoid criminal charges. Scammers may simply knock at your door offering a great deal because they were “in the neighborhood,” but more and more they are using telemarketing, email and even social media to reach homeowners. The plan is that, when those governments revalue their currencies, increasing their worth against the dollar, you just sell and cash in.
They look like a text alert from your bank, asking you to confirm information or “reactivate your debit card” by following a link on your smart phone. A popular recent scam has been the theft of people’s online identities to create fake profiles, which can be used in a variety of ways. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Data Book estimates that Americans lost $1.4 billion to scams in 2012.
The system, of course, never arrived and the seniors were left with a charge they had trouble getting refunded. The seller receives an email that looks like it’s from PayPal confirming the payment, but emails are easy to fake.


Helpful videos on YouTube can add legitimacy to a contractor, but consumers have no way of knowing if the video is real or “borrowed” from a legitimate contractor. Banks of all sizes have been targeted, and details of the scam vary, but the outcome is the same: scammers get your banking information, maybe even your ATM number and PIN. A new Friend can learn a lot about you to scam you later, “recommend” sketchy websites that download malware, use your account to scrap information on your other Friends, even impersonate a military officer or other trustworthy person to perpetrate a romance scam.
For example, they may have your bank's routing number and ask you to provide your account number. Easy rule of thumb – be wary of “free” offers that require your personal information upfront and always verify with the supposed friend or family member that the caller says paid for the service. Always confirm payment in your Ebay and PayPal accounts before shipping, especially to an overseas address.
It may just be a lucky guess, but don’t be fooled into thinking you are about to be arrested. The problem is that they will be very difficult to sell, and it's extremely unlikely they will ever significantly increase in value.
You may even inadvertently download malicious software that gives the scammer access to anything on your phone. Be careful on social media, keep your privacy settings high, and don’t share confidential information. Or, they may ask for your credit card or Social Security number, Medicare ID, or other personal information. These services are free, but sharing personal information with a scammer could cost you a lot.



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