[March 18, 2009 – Middle TN] Need quick cash? Searching for ways to eliminate debt? Want perfect credit? That's the motive behind the top 5 scams of 2009. Better Business Bureaus across the country are inundated with calls from consumers seeking advice regarding all the TV, newspaper and email advertisements offering just that.
To avoid becoming a victim of losing your hard earned money, BBB advises consumers to be wary of the following top 5 scams looking for you:
Mystery Shoppers Wanted
Shop, Dine AND Get Paid? The offer is enticing, and it is true that Mystery Shopping, developed over half a century ago, has grown into a $1..5 billion dollar industry. But not until a Wall Street Journal reporter revealed the amazing lifestyle of freelance Mystery Shoppers to the world, did the scam artist find a way to add their own mystery to the industry. The most common type of scheme involves a counterfeit cashier's check, traditionally considered a trusted form of payment. The con-artist sends the consumer a fake check in which part of the funds are to be used for mystery shopping purposes, while the remaining funds are to be wired to the swindler in a foreign country. The problem occurs when the consumer deposits the counterfeit check in a bank account and asks the financial institution if the money is "available." When told yes, the consumer assumes that they can safely draw upon that money. That is not the case! Until the financial institution can confirm the funds have been "finally collected", the consumer is responsible for any funds they may withdraw against that check deposit. Before you realize it, the scammer takes off with the wired cash leaving the consumer with major financial trouble, ruined credit and possible jail time. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) is the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality using anonymous resources. MSPA provides the following website for those interested in locating legitimate mystery shopping positions: http://www.mysteryshop.org/
Foreclosure Rescue Services
"Keep your home! We know it's is being foreclosed on, and we can help!" Advertisements like this prey on consumers who face losing the American dream of home ownership. Many homeowners are feeling the pinch of a tightening economy while other consumers have Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM's) that have matured to the "Reset Point" and now have much higher mortgage payments. Some have lost jobs.. These conditions can make it hard for consumers to make payments on time... if at all. Unfortunately, foreclosure scam artists rely on the desperation of consumers who are going through foreclosure. Beware! They offer a false sense of hope. Not only could you lose your house or your equity, but you could still have a mortgage to pay off. Scammers will advertise via internet, television, and posters on telephone poles, classified ads, flyers, business cards and hand-written messages stuffed in an unsuspecting victim's door. There are several types of foreclosure rescue scams consumers should avoid such as bait and switch, phony counseling, rent-to-buy schemes and bankruptcy foreclosure scams. BBB's Tips for Troubled Homeowners can be found by clicking here: http://www.bbb.org/us/article/724. If you're in need of a local certified foreclosure prevention counselor contact the Tennessee Housing Development Agency at http://www.thda.org/foreclosure/counselors.pdf
Stimulus Package Scams
According to one bogus website:"Now is the time for Change!...President Obama wants to issue a STIMULUS PLAN for people in need of government aid and free federal money." NOT SO! Better Business Bureau is warning the public to be extremely wary of companies that offer “free” advice on how to obtain government grants. Dozens of Web sites claim that, because of the recently passed stimulus package and other actions taken by President Obama, consumers can easily get government grants to pay bills or get out of debt. Contrary to such claims, the federal government does not award grants to help consumers pay general debt and complaints to BBB show that people who sought free advice were ultimately charged as much as $69.95 every month on their credit or debit card. For more information regarding stimulus package scams click here: http://www.bbb.org/us/article/9363
"The credit you've always dreamed of! If we fail to remove any negative credit from your reports, we’ll give you a refund plus $100." Referring to charge-offs, collections, tax liens, bankruptcies, repossessions, student loans, child support, late payments, and judgments, some credit repair firms claim they can remove negative credit within 30-90 days, and charge hefty up front fees ranging from $500 - $1000 to start the process. BBB cautions consumers to approach offers of "credit repair" firms carefully as no firm can promise a "clean" credit record without evaluating the individual's unique situation. Information in a consumer's individual credit report which is accurate cannot be removed unless the information is obsolete or erroneously entered into the credit record. According to the Federal Trade Commission's Credit Repair Organization Act credit repair firms may not receive payment before any promised service is "fully performed." For tips on understanding your credit report and ways you can impact your credit score click here: http://www.bbb.org/us/article/6103
"Eliminate your unsecured debt for pennies on the dollar!" Sounds easy enough! Consumers are being battered on all fronts, and offers from companies to help get them out of debt are extremely tempting in troubling times. Some of the offers do nothing more than lead people into financial ruin and bankruptcy. Offers of debt negotiation, debt settlement, and debt elimination are three different options available to consumers. Better Business Bureau advises consumers to ensure they understand these critical differences before enlisting the help of a company to manage their debt or they could end up making their current financial situation worse. Debt negotiation companies claim that they will negotiate with a consumer's lenders to lower the total amount of debt owed for an upfront fee. Unfortunately, some consumers who paid for debt negotiation services found out that the company never contacted their lenders, but instead, took their money and ran. Because the debt negotiation company made it sound like they had everything under control, the consumer stopped talking directly with their lenders and ended up slipping deeper into debt. Relying on debt negotiation firms could also put a dent in a consumer's credit report. For reliable and helpful tips on how to repay debt click here: http://www.bbb.org/us/article/6100
To avoiding falling victim to the top 5 scams looking for you, Start your search With Trust by visiting www.Nashville.BBB.org
The BBB of Middle Tennessee, Inc. was founded in 1961 as a non-profit Tennessee organization serving 38 counties in Middle Tennessee and 7 counties in Southern Kentucky. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada.
Serving as the 'ethical gatepost' of our communities, BBB fosters and promotes ethical business practices and self-regulation standards that build consumer trust in the marketplace. BBB services include business reliability information, complaint resolution services and consumer and business educational information. In 2008 BBB Nashville handled over 4.0 million services requests via our web site www.Nashville.BBB.org.
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