B.C.’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) released the Top 10 scams for 2012 this week.
The list, themed Pay Attention to the Message according to a BBB release, was developed alongside Consumer Protection BC and the BC Crime Prevention Association.
According to the BBB, some notable scams include:
Financial Elder Abuse
Financial elder abuse occurs when seniors’ pocketbooks are exploited by scammers who take advantage of a person’s vulnerabilities associated with age – like hearing loss, loneliness, physical limitations and impaired mental capacity.
Common financial elder abuse frauds include tricking seniors into giving out private banking information; encouraging unnecessary home repair work, telemarketing and mail fraud; and swindles by family or friends that result in seniors giving up money, property, personal information and decision making capacity.
QUICK TIP: Most elder abuse happens to a senior by someone they know, such as a family member, friend or caregiver. Many victims do not even realize they have been taken advantage of. Signs a senior is being financially abused include: missing belongings, unusual activity in bank accounts, suspicious stories, sudden changes in Power of Attorney or Wills, bounced cheques and numerous unpaid bills. Report all incidents of financial elder abuse to your local police.
Power Saving Claims
The switch to Smart Meters in B.C. fostered a rise in false claims and deceptive ads by some scammers selling energy conservation devices. Consumers reported purchasing a number of power saving devices they claim did not work and that did not meet electrical safety standards.
QUICK TIP: BBB was created 100 years ago to put a stop to unethical, deceptive claims and advertising. The BBB Ad Review program seeks to help consumers and businesses identify untrue, deceptive, fraudulent and insincere statements. Protect yourself from deceptive advertising by doing your research before making a purchase. Always check out a company’s BBB Business Review (bbb.org) first and report deceptive advertising and business claims to your local BBB. If it sounds too good to be true, remember that it probably is.
Virus Fixing Scheme
In the case of the alleged caller from Microsoft, he/she claim to be phoning about a serious problem with the person’s computer. The caller warns that if the problem is not solved, the computer will become unusable. In order to “fix” it, the computer owner is directed to a website and told to download a program, plus pay a fee for a subscription to this preventative service. The catch: there was never anything wrong with the computer, the caller is not working for Microsoft, and the owner has downloaded to their computer damaging malware and spyware.
QUICK TIP: Treat all unsolicited phone calls with skepticism. Check with the organization directly that the caller is claiming to be from, using the contact numbers found on their website. Do not provide any personal information to avoid identity theft. Never provide credit or debit card information for payment. Report any fraudulent activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1 (888) 495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca.
These are by no means the only scams. For a complete list go to the BBB’s website.
– courtesy the Better Business Bureau