The bad guys are out there. Their only goal is to separate you from your money. They don't care if you are rich or poor, black or white, young or old. They are equal opportunity criminals. Perpetrators of these scams take advantage of the good nature of people as well as the desperation of people who need money or a job or repairs that they might not be able to afford.
The old adage is appropriate -- if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Before you send anyone a deposit or provide your personal information, check the company out. Only use licensed contractors to make structural, electrical or plumbing repairs to your home. If a natural disaster occurs somewhere in the world, make a donation only to those organizations that you know, by an established method of sending the money.
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, you can report it to the appropriate local Arizona governmental... agency, but here is another warning for you -- they get so many reports that you might not see personal attention given to your situation. The Arizona Attorney General's Office actually publishes a list of the complaints that are the most common. Many of these are general, and a variety of different schemes and frauds might fall into any one of the categories.
The following scams have been reported to be taking place in Arizona.
01 of 16
Mystery and Secret Shopper Jobs: Real or Scam?
This is one of the most difficult scams because:
- People who are desperate for a job are susceptible
- There are some mystery shopping jobs that are not scams
How the Mystery Shopper Scam Works
The mystery shopper scam might work this way: people respond to an ad looking for a mystery shopper or a secret shopper. When they contact the company about the position, they are told they can earn money by purchasing items at different stores or dining at different restaurants. The company then sends an employment packet. The packet includes business evaluation forms, a training assignment, and a cashier's check, often ranging between $2,000 and $4,000. The training assignment is to cash the check, pose as a customer, and wire the money to an address in Canada. The scam is that the check is fake. The check bounces after the person wires the money, leaving the person liable for the fake check.
People who apply for the secret shopper or mystery shopper jobs are told by the company that they have... only 48 hours to complete the assignment or they will lose the job.
Arizona's Attorney General says, "Consumers need to know that a legitimate company will never send you a cashier's check out of the blue or require you to send money to someone you have never met. The scam artists use realistic-looking documents, the 'secret' nature of the job, and the 48-hour deadline to pressure consumers into cashing the check and wiring the money quickly before the bank or the consumer can determine it was a fake check."
Fake cashiers check scams come in many forms.
- Do not depend on the funds from a cashier's check from a source you do not know.
- There is usually no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask for money to be wired back or wired to a third party. Don't do it.
- Do not rely on the fact that the check was accepted for deposit by their financial institution as evidence of the check's authenticity. It can take up to a week or much longer for a financial institution to determine whether a check is good, especially if the check is from an institution located outside the United States.
- Consumers are responsible for the deposited fake check, even if it was a cashier's check. When the check bounces, the bank deducts from the consumer's account the amount that was credited with the fake check -- often with charges added. The bank will not take the loss.
Finding a Real Mystery Shopping Job
There are some legitimate mystery shopping jobs. How do you tell if the one you are looking at is real or a scam? The Attorney General's Office and Federal Trade Commission advise that you should be skeptical of any secret shopper, mystery shopper, or investigative shopper companies that:
- Advertise jobs for shoppers on the radio, in a newspaper's classified or "help wanted" section or through unsolicited email. Legitimate secret shopper companies generally do not advertise for jobs in this manner.
- "Guarantee" a job as a mystery, secret, or investigative shopper.
- Charge a fee just for applying or charge a fee for access to secret shopping job opportunities. You should not pay any fee to apply or to obtain job information.
- Appear to be located in places outside the country, such as Canada. If the company does not have an established office nearby that you can visit in person, be very cautious.
- It is always a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau and investigate any business offering this sort of employment.
02 of 16
Canadian Lottery Scam
The Arizona Attorney General's Office has warned Arizonans to be wary of a scam known as "the Canadian Lottery" that is targeting the elder community.
Fraudulent telemarketers are calling unsuspecting Arizona consumers, telling them that they have won a prize in the Canadian Lottery. Although there is a legitimate lottery in Canada, it works similar to lotteries in the United States, with individual provinces selling their own tickets. Millions of dollars are stolen by criminals using this scam.
There are two common variations of this scheme.
- A man who claims to be a lawyer from a prestigious law firm in Canada calls to inform you that the Canadian courts have been ordered to distribute millions of dollars from illegal telemarketers to American consumers who have played the Canadian lottery. You just need to send a processing fee, or legal fee, before you can be paid. The caller then will say that the judge has a gag order on this case and if you tell anyone, you will not... receive the money.
- Someone calls to say that you have won a prize and then the caller lets another person, someone who claims to be a lawyer or a Canadian customs official, on the phone to explain how you have won the money in a special lottery. All that you have to do is send a cashier's check to pay for Canadian customs.
Usually, the callers will be friendly, and call the person by first name. They will continue to call until the person sends the money.
Canada does have a legitimate lottery. Each Canadian province has its own. Tickets similar to the ones used in the Arizona lottery are sold.
- You CANNOT win without buying a ticket.
- Canadian Officials do not contact winners.
- You NEVER have to send CASH to anyone to redeem a prize, even if they say it is an emergency.
Beware of the following red flags when being contacted:
- Unsolicited calls asking if you would like to be in a "Lottery pool."
- Mail notifying you that you have already won a substantial sum of money.
- Any request for you to send cash to redeem your prize.
- The caller telling you that you must keep your winnings a secret to avoid tax consequences.
03 of 16
Home-Based Envelope Stuffing
The Arizona Attorney General, in association with the Federal Trade Commission (the "FTC"), has issued a special warning to Arizona residents to be wary of work-at-home envelope stuffing schemes.
Ads for envelope stuffing "opportunities" seem to be everywhere, from your mailbox to your newspaper to your email box. Promoters usually advertise that, for a small fee, they will tell you how to earn big money stuffing envelopes at home. They claim that they will pay you a certain amount of money for each envelope stuffed, promising hundreds or thousands of dollars available to be earned by you each week.
These ads may seem attractive, especially if you are looking for a home-based business. But according to the FTC, ads like these don't tell the whole story, because the promoters really aren't offering you a job. Instead, after you send your money, you are likely to get a letter telling you to place the same envelope-stuffing ad in newspapers or magazines, or to send... the ad to friends and relatives.
The only way you'll earn money is if people respond to your ad and send you that "small fee."
If you are tempted by an envelope stuffing offer, here are some questions to ask the promoters before you send any money or sign up to receive more information:
- Who will pay me?
- When will I get my first paycheck?
- Will I be paid a salary or will my pay be based on commission?
- What is the total cost of the envelope stuffing program, including supplies, equipment and membership fees?
The answers to these questions may help you determine whether an envelope stuffing promotion is legitimate and appropriate for your circumstances. Be certain to keep a copy of all communications (emails, texts, letters, ads) and documents relating to the transaction.
It may also help to check out the program with the Better Business Bureau or Attorney General's Office. These organizations can tell you if they have received complaints or filed any charges against the organization that you are interested in. Remember, just because there are no complaints doesn't necessarily mean that the envelope stuffing business is legitimate. Unscrupulous promoters may settle complaints, change their names, or move to avoid detection.
If you have spent money and time on a work-at-home program and now believe the program may not be legitimate, contact the company and ask for a refund. Let company representatives know that you plan to notify officials about your experience. If you can't resolve the dispute with the company, file a complaint with these organizations:
- The Federal Trade Commission works for the consumer to prevent fraud and deception. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or online at https://www.ftc.gov/.
- The local postmaster, if the offer or subsequent documents were received through the mail. The U.S. Postal Service investigates fraudulent mail practices.
04 of 16
Spring Break Scam
Each year students attending Arizona's three major universities anticipate the arrival of spring break, when they get a vacation from their studies and can break away for some sun and fun. In Arizona, popular destinations for spring break that don't involve lengthy travel include Lake Havasu and Rocky Point, as well as other Mexican cities and beach cities in California. Students yearning for snow will often head north to Canada.
The Better Business Bureau of Central, Northern & Western Arizona warns students and their families about a popular scam that typically targets grandparents. Although it is often referred to as the "Grandparent Scam" other family members can be targeted by the scheme.
Here's how it works. Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call, which they are led to believe is their grandchild away for spring break. A scammer, posing as their grandchild, explains that he or she has gotten into trouble - often in Mexico or Canada - and... needs their help.
The "grandchild" might claim he or she caused a car accident or is in trouble with the law and requires money to be wired immediately. Victims may also be contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer or lawyer representing the grandchild in court. In either case, the "grandchild" pleads with the grandparents to not tell his or her parents and asks that they wire thousands of dollars for reasons including posting bail, repairing the grandchild's car, covering lawyer's fees or even paying hospital bills for a person the grandchild injured in a car accident.
Don't fall for it.
- Students should share spring break travel plans with family members.
- Students should provide the cell phone number and email address of a friend they are traveling with in the case of an emergency.
- Students should avoid sharing details about travel plans on social media, like Facebook and Twitter.
- If a grandparent or relative receives a phone call from someone claiming to be their grandchild in distress, don't give the person any credit card or banking information before confirming the person's true identity. Ask a personal question about their childhood that only true family members would know.
If you do fall victim to the "Spring Break Scam" or "Grandparent Scam" you should report the incident immediately to local police.Continue to 5 of 16 below.
05 of 16
Personalized Email Scam
I received an email that was a little different the other day. It wasn't your typical Nigerian advanced fee scheme, nor was it the Canadian Lottery scam. It was addressed to me, used my name, and included my family name in the content of the message. It really seemed as if this person might have been looking for me.
This email indicated that a person with the same last name as mine had died several years ago and they were looking for heirs. The amount of money mentioned was astronomical, of course. I know it is possible for attorneys to search for heirs to unclaimed fortunes (this actually happened to my cousin several years ago -- no scam!) but there are legitimate ways to check on the information, and answering this email is not one of them. Here's the text of the email I received. If you get a similar one, don't even bother researching it. Either report it to your Internet Service Provider or simply hit the delete key.
Dear Judy Hedding
It is with trust and believe that I... write to you. I am Barrister Franklin Ali, a Solicitor at Law. I am the personal attorney to Mr. William Hedding a National of your Country, who used to work with Shell development Company here in Nigeria.
On the 21st of April 2001, my client, his wife and their only daughter were involved in a car accident along sagamu express road Ondo State. All occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost their lives. Since then I have made several inquiries to locate any of my clients extended relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful.
After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to track his last name over the Internet, to locate any member of his family hence I contacted you. I have contacted you to assist in recovering the fund valued at US$15.4Million left behind by my client before it gets confiscated or declared unserviceable by the Security Finance Firm in where this huge amount were deposited.
The said Security Finance Company has issued me a notice to provide the Next of Kin or have the account confiscated within the next twenty-one official working days. Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 2 years now, I seek the consent to present you as the Next of Kin to the deceased since you bear his last names, so that the proceeds of this account can be paid to you.
Therefore, on receipt of your positive response, we shall then discuss the sharing ratio and modalities for transfer. I have all necessary information and legal documents needed to back you up for claim. All I require from you is your honest cooperation to enable us see this transaction through. I guarantee you that this will be executed under legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.
I would be grateful if this mail will be favoured with an early reply via the above email address.
Barrister Franklin Ali (SAN)
After I posted the contents of the email I had received, many people who had received similar scam emails and who were apparently searching online for information commented on my article and provided their own examples. Hopefully, these comments will keep someone else from losing money to unscrupulous fraudsters. Be careful out there! Remember -- if it seems too good to be true, it probably is (too good to be true, that is).
06 of 16
Jury Duty Scam
The Arizona Attorney General warns Arizona residents to be wary of callers threatening people with arrest for missing jury duty unless they provide specific personal information. This is a new twist on identity theft, and residents should be very careful about giving any personal information to strangers.
This is a scam. Here is how it works.
The caller identifies himself as a representative of the Superior Court of Maricopa County Jury Office and tells the person he or she has missed a jury date and must make it up. The caller then asks for personal information, such as address, Social Security number and other specific information. If the information is not provided, the story may change to the caller being a representative of the Sheriffs Department, and he may threaten arrest for missing the jury date.
Here is the truth: If a resident improperly fails to appear for jury duty, the Court will send a second summons and it will be labeled Second Summons. The Jury Management Office will... only contact residents who contact the office requesting a new date for jury duty and leave a phone number for a return call.
Don't Be A Victim of the Jury Duty Scam
- Be skeptical of callers who threaten arrest for missing jury duty unless the consumer provides specific personal information to the caller.
- Do not comply with any request to verify information such as a Social Security number.
- Do not agree to send the caller any written information for review.
- Hang up! Do not be afraid to be rude, even if the caller attempts to play on fear of prosecution.
- NEVER give out bank, credit card or Social Security information over the phone.
- Screen calls. Let the answering machine pick up calls from unknown callers.
- Report calls of this kind to the Attorney General's Office.
07 of 16
Car Sublease Scam
It happens. You lease a car because out the outset it seems like a more financially feasible option. It might cost less than buying a vehicle outright. The longer the lease, the cheaper the monthly payments. But then, for whatever reason, you don't want that car any longer, and the charges or penalties for returning it earlier are more than you can afford. Letting someone take over your lease seems like a good idea, but that car sublease may cost you in the end .
Subleasing Tour Car - A Warning
The Arizona Attorney General's office has issued a warning to consumers who lease their cars or have loans on their cars. These people are becoming victimized by rescue schemes that promise the vehicle owners a means of removing themselves from loan or lease payments without dealership or lender penalties. These schemes do not work, and can cause the car owners significant financial harm.
What's the Risk?
The scheme works like this: A company will find people who need or want to get out... of their monthly loan or lease payments.
The company promises that they will find someone to take possession of the owner’s vehicle and assume the monthly loan or lease payments, with no costs to the original owner. The company claims that the person who takes over the loan or lease will pay any maintenance and repair costs, and pay for full insurance coverage for the vehicle. The company guarantees it will pick up the tab, at no cost to the owner, if the subsequent person defaults on the loan or lease. Unfortunately, experience has shown that when there is a default on the monthly payments these companies frequently fail to live up their promises.
Who Pays? You Do.
If that person who took over your lease or loan defaults or damages the vehicle, the person who originally arranged for that loan or lease is responsible for it. That means that you could be required to make back payments, pay for unpaid insurance premiums, pay for car repairs, and damage your credit in the process.
Read the Fine Print
According to the Attorney General, "vehicle sublease rescue companies are proliferating throughout Arizona and preying on consumers who have difficulty making their car payments. Consumers should be careful. Read the terms and conditions of the vehicle loan or lease agreement carefully. Most lenders’ financial agreements will expressly prohibit the sublease or transfer of any interest in the vehicle to a third party."
08 of 16
Arizona's Attorney General is reminding consumers that many, but not all, gift cards have expiration dates and service fees. While this may not be a scam per se, they can be confusing to consumers who are not aware of restrictions that may be associated with the cards.
Arizona law requires that any gift card subject to an expiration date or fee must have a printed disclosure visible to the consumer before purchase. However, while paper gift certificates must disclose the terms on the face of the certificate, plastic gift cards do not. The terms for a plastic card have to be disclosed either on accompanying printed materials or on a sign at the point of purchase.
Retailers selling gift cards over the Internet must disclose any fees or expiration dates to consumers before purchase. Sales representatives helping consumers purchase gift cards over the phone must disclose any fees or expiration dates before purchase. But if you buy a gift card in person, you need to look for the terms in... writing or ask a sales representative what they are.
When shopping for gift cards, consumers should ask the following questions:
- Is there a service charge? Some stores charge a fee to purchase the card.
- Does the gift certificate or gift card expire? Some cards expire a year or less after purchase.
- Is there a dormancy fee? These fees typically kick in if the card is not used within a set time period usually between six months and a year. The fee may be as high as $2 per month and will accrue until the value of the card is exhausted.
- Is there a maintenance fee? Like the dormancy fee, this charge applies if the card is used but not exhausted. Typically, the charges kick in every month after a set time when the balance is not used, deducting a low percentage of the remaining balance each month.
- If the card is used for merchandise valued at less than the certificate's value, can you get any cash back? Often the answer is no.
- If the gift card is store-specific, remember to ask if it can be used at other locations or for online purchases.
- Make sure that the gift card you purchase comes in a sealed package where the numbers are not visible on the outside, or is obtained from the cashier from a supply of gift cards that have not been displayed. This will ensure that the card number hasn't been stolen prior to you purchasing the gift card.
Gift cards available at grocery stores, gift stores, appliance stores, restaurants, movies — chances are that if you can purchase it, you can get a gift card for it, too. Make sure you ask all the questions that you need to so that you understand what the restrictions are.
Although this warning didn't come from the Arizona Attorney General, I'll add another one. If you see an advertisement online for a free gift card, sometimes in amounts up to $500, for answering a survey or some other innocent sounding request, don't bother. If there are legitimate free gift cards out there, I've never seen one, and chances are you will thereafter be bombarded with email advertisements from vendors who obtain your personal information. That old adage, 'if it seems to good to be true, it is' comes into play here. Everyone would like a free $500 gift card for doing nothing, but it's not going to happen. Worse, you may end up inadvertently ordering products that you don't need or want, and you still won't get the gift card.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please contact the Attorney General's Office at 602-542-5763 in Phoenix; 520-628-6504 in Tucson; or 1-800-352-8431 outside the metro areas. You can also file a complaint.
Information included here was provided courtesy of the Arizona Attorney General's Office.Continue to 9 of 16 below.
09 of 16
Do Not Call Registry Scam
While the National Do Not Call Registry is real and legitimate, the Arizona Attorney General's Office is warning Arizona residents of a scam in which unscrupulous people are calling consumers who have registered on the National Do Not Call List seeking personal and financial information.
Some consumers have been called by a person claiming to represent the Arizona Attorney General's Office or the "Arizona FTC." After providing a phony name and badge number, the caller instructs consumers to state their name, address and phone number for verification purposes before they can receive a special code that allows the consumer to sue any telemarketer for $11,000.
After getting the consumer's personal information, the caller asks for the name and routing number of the consumer's bank, saying they need it before releasing the security code.
No one from the Attorney General's Office is making these calls, and there is no such thing as the Arizona FTC. The Arizona... Attorney general's Office will never call you and ask for any personal information over the phone.
10 of 16
Storm Repair Scams
Arizona's monsoons are most prevalent from June through September. The wind blows, heavy rains come and haboobs all can result in damage to your home. And that's also the time when people are most likely to be scammed by people offering home repairs who either do shoddy work or don't do the work at all. When an opportunity arises, the bad guys will be at your door.
Unlicensed contractors, especially roofers, pool companies and landscapers, come out of hiding, knocking on doors and offering their services after summer monsoon storms. They say they've been working in your neighborhood, or they've noticed that something on your property is in need of repair and that they have time to schedule you in. That's your first clue to be suspicious -- most licensed businesses don't solicit customers door to door.
The most common construction services offered by these groups are roofing, small remodeling projects, air conditioning services, mold remediation and asphalt... repair or paving services.
Typically, these unlicensed repair people will not provide a written estimate. When the job is finished, they will often try to charge significantly more than you thought the job was going to cost, and they use pressure and scare tactics to get you to pay.
The Central Arizona Better Business Bureau shares five red flags of a monsoon repair scam.
- In the Neighborhood
Scam contractors usually roam the streets after a storm claiming they were in the neighborhood doing work for someone down the street.
- Extra Materials
The scammer may mention that he has extra materials from a previous job to make you think you are getting a break on the price.
- Fix the Damage Now
Urgency and scare tactics are frequently used by scammers, claiming residents need to take immediate action to avoid costly repairs. The scammer tried to rush you into making a quick decision.
- Sign Here
Scammers may ask people to sign documents giving them permission to provide services, claiming that your home insurance will cover the cost.
- Inferior Work
Scammers will disappear after receiving the money, often leaving you with costly repairs to fix what the scammer did to your home.
When storm damage occurs, it can be upsetting and stressful. Don't take the easy way out by hiring someone that might be working as a contractor illegally. Even if the storm repair rogue does repair your home, the work they do may be of poor quality and overpriced. Arizona's Attorney General provides these tips when you need storm damage repairs.
- Beware of contractors or repair workers, including roofers, pool companies and landscapers, who unexpectedly show up at your home after a storm.
- Be wary of contractors who take a "quick look" around your property, then say you need a major repair.
- Be cautious of contractors who claim they are working in the neighborhood and have time to fix your house or have leftover supplies from another job.
- Get written estimates from several contractors.
- Make sure the scope of the project, the price and any other material terms are in a written contract.
- Request a list of references and check them before agreeing to hire a contractor.
- Never allow yourself to be hurried into making a decision. Reputable contractors will not try to pressure you into hiring them.
The Arizona Registrar of Contractors advises that when monsoon storms begin they notice increased movement of these unwelcome individuals into Arizona. These unlicensed contractors come here from a variety of locations to take advantage of unsuspecting citizens.
Any consumer who has been solicited by an individual purporting themselves to be a licensed contractor without providing their ROC license number on their bid or contract should be warned that they are potentially dealing with one of these fraudsters.
Bottom Line: If you need repairs on your home as a result of storm damage, or any other improvement or repair to your home or property, it's best to hire a licensed contractor and check on the business through the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and the Better Business Bureau.
- In the Neighborhood
11 of 16
Moving is a stressful experience. No matter how you plan, and how many checklists you work with, there are issues that seem out of your control. Moving is also expensive. So it is no wonder that one of the concerns people have when moving is how to find a reputable moving company. The phone book? The Internet? Those may be good places to start, but there's more to it than that.
Moving scams are not new, but Arizona state officials have taken up the battles of many new Arizonans who have found themselves victims of extortion: moving companies that tell people that unless they pay them more money -- sometimes thousands more -- than the original estimate, their personal belongings would not be delivered.
The Arizona Department of Weights and Measures responds to frantic calls from people who don't know how to deal with unscrupulous moving companies. According to the Department's website, "Scam artists typically give an unrealistically low estimate to reel in bargain hunters.
M...any of these companies are brokers who pass on the moving job to another company. An unwary consumer makes a down payment on an unrealistic weight estimate. A crew shows up with a van and picks up the items to be moved. Then the moving company calls and says the actual weight was higher than estimated. Unless the consumer agrees to pay several thousand dollars more, they will not deliver the furniture. The driver must be paid in cash or with a money order. No checks or credit cards. They may also try to add on additional fees."
Tips For Selecting a Mover
- Do your homework. It might not be fun, and it might be time-consuming, but diligence is necessary when selecting a moving company. Here's a helpful article entitled, How to Find a Reputable Mover.
- Remember that if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is (too good to be true). Some moving companies estimate low to get you to sign the dotted line on the contract and then try to overcharge you at the time of delivery.
- There are binding estimates and non-binding estimates. Make sure you know which one you are getting, and what the conditions are for any additional charges that could be assessed, and on what basis you will be charged.
- You don't want to pay for the weight of a moving van. Get evidence of the weight of the truck. Be present when the weight of your household goods is established. Get a certified weight ticket for your records. Make sure the weight ticket has a certified Weighmaster seal.
- Don't agree to pay cash. Use a credit card company that will reimburse you if a fraudulent transaction occurs. If a moving company demands payment in cash, that's a red flag that something is wrong.
- It is understandable that you want your stuff, but don't pay any extra to the movers until you are satisfied that all contractual obligations have been met, and you're satisfied that you have been charged for the correct weight and service.
- If a moving company threatens to withhold your household goods and personal belongings until you pay them more money due to a claim of greater weight than estimated, contact the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures.
More Mover Resources
12 of 16
Credit Repair Scam
Our Central Arizona Better Business Bureau has joined the Federal Trade Commission and other federal, state and local law enforcement and consumer protection agencies to seek out credit repair advertisements on the Internet.
Credit repair operations might ‘guarantee’ that they can remove negative information from consumers’ credit reports, but don't believe it. More than 60 credit repair operations have been identified as selling instructions about how consumers can substitute a false Social Security number for their current number and 'start fresh' with a new credit identity. They claim the scheme is perfectly legal. That is a lie. In fact, it is a felony, and any credit repair operation that claims it can improve a consumer’s credit report and charges for that service in advance is violating the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA).
If you need to check your credit report to see if any unauthorized people have accessed it, you can do so legitimately and for free.Continue to 13 of 16 below.
13 of 16
809 Area Code Scam
These are inquiries requesting that you call a phone number with an "809" area code. The most common versions of this scam are:
1. You receive a message on your voicemail or pager. The message could refer to an ill family member, some other emergency regarding a family member, or that you have won a prize, etc. You are told to call a number that has an "809" area code.
2. You receive a voicemail or email that says that it has been determined that you owe money on an overdue account and they threaten legal action. They request you to immediately call a number with an "809" area code.
The 809 area code is in the British Virgin Islands; charges on calls to those numbers may be exorbitant. The person answering these calls will try to keep the caller on the phone as long as possible to get the charges as high as possible. These are the equivalent of our 900 numbers, which are pay-per-call numbers. Unfortunately, the 809 area code is not subject to U.S. law.
Moral to the... 809 scam story: Do not respond to requests from people that you don't know to call any phone number that has an "809" area code.
You Might Be Interested In:
14 of 16
Voter Registration Fraud May Lead to ID Theft
The Central Arizona Better Business Bureau is warning Arizona residents to be extremely cautious with their personal information to avoid phony voter registration drives designed to steal their identities.
During years of high interest elections, voter interest and turnout is high. That leads to higher levels of voter registration, especially as the election date draws near. Unfortunately, a projected increase in voter turnout also means there will be a lot of people registering who are unfamiliar with the process, and who may be easy prey for identity thieves.
ID theft under the guise of voter registration can be perpetrated through e-mail, on the phone, and even in person. Younger voters and first-time registrants need to be especially wary. All voters, though, need to be aware of the following ways ID thieves might try to get at their personal information during election season.
Is That Voter Registration Solicitation Legitimate?
Phishing e-mails are spam that attempt to coerce... sensitive information from the recipient. When it comes to voter registration scams, recipients may get phishing e-mails that appear to be from a government agency and claim that the recipient must click on a link in the message to register to vote or resolve a registration issue. These links will actually redirect recipients to Web sites that install viruses or malware on their computers or ask for personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers.
- On the Phone
Similar to phishing e-mails, a voter might receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to work for a government agency or one of the presidential campaign offices. The caller may claim that there is a problem with the voter’s registration and they need to confirm their identity by providing personal information such as Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers. Voters need to know that state government officials do not contact voters by phone if there is an issue with their registration, nor do they need bank account or credit card numbers to confirm a voter’s identity.
Local voter registration drives often rely on individuals who set up in common public areas or go door-to-door to register voters. Would-be voters should always ask individuals for proof of which organization the volunteer is with before providing any information. While some states require Social Security numbers to vote, states never require bank account or credit card information to confirm the voter’s identity.
Consumers who believe they have become a victim of ID theft or voter registration fraud should contact our local Better Business Bureau.
There are several safe ways to register to vote in Arizona. The state of Arizona does not require your entire Social Security number on the voting registration form, only the last four digits.
15 of 16
Work at Home Scams
Our Better Business Bureau has done a study and confirmed what we have thought for years: most Work at Home business opportunities are scams.
This is from the Better Business Bureau :
"Work-at-home schemes often target the most vulnerable, those who can least afford to lose the money....Students, stay-at-home mothers, people that are disabled, and the elderly are always hopeful that they can earn some money at home. Our investigation shows direct evidence to the contrary. We 'shopped' more than 100 work-at-home advertisements, and found absolutely no evidence of people making the earnings promised. In fact, most people pay more up-front than they ever earn doing the work advertised."
The businesses that were studied by the Better Business Bureau included envelope-stuffing, product assembly, medical billing, mystery shopping, and business opportunities, such as vitamin sales, auto-dialing machines, selling advertising on the Internet, and telemarketing of videotapes, books,... and seminars.
The BBB goes on to say, "While ads claim high earnings and short hours with little or no experience, the task force found no evidence of people actually making the promised money. Rather, after paying advance fees or "deposits," the consumer receives either nothing, or information that encourages involvement in an illegal scheme or supplies to assemble a product that is virtually impossible to complete."
So, are there any real work at home jobs? Yes, there are. Try looking here. I can't promise that all of these are legitimate -- anyone can post a help wanted ad -- but some of them are for real. Remember that if you have to pay a fee or a deposit, you should probably run the other way.
Should you find a legitimate work-at-home opportunity it is important to remember that work will be required! Just because you are working at home doesn't mean that your job requirements won't be rigorous or your time will be flexible.
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While there are many legitimate businesses that use the telephone to sell their products, there are also many unscrupulous businesses that use telemarketing to swindle consumers out of millions of dollars every year. Dishonest telemarketers are often very pushy and will say anything to get your money. They frequently use the following tactics:
- A high-pressure sales approach, urging you to act now immediately or the offer won't be available later.
- Offer you something that sounds too good to be true, such as a "no-risk investment."
- Ask for your credit card or checking account numbers or other personal financial information.
- Tell you that you have won a prize that you have to pay taxes or shipping for in advance.
- Ask you to send money right away, through a wire service or overnight delivery. Fraudulent telemarketers will sometimes offer to send over a representative to pick up the money from your home.
What You Can Do To Avoid Being Scammed
Keep your financial information to... yourself. Never give out credit card, checking or savings account information to anyone who calls you, as it is not difficult for someone with this data to draft money from your account.
Ask the sales agent to send you information about their product or services. Legitimate companies are often happy to mail you a pamphlet or brochure about what they sell.
Tell the company to put you on their "do not call" list. State law prohibits telephone sellers from calling you once you have asked them to put you on this list.
The "Do Not Call" Law
The "do not call" law gives consumers protection against being repeatedly called by telephone sellers by requiring most companies who initiate phone sales to maintain a list of consumers who do not want to receive phone solicitations. While federal regulations require telemarketers to call only between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., telephone sellers are only prohibited from calling you once you are on their "do not call" list (with certain exceptions).
Of course, only legitimate companies care about the Do Not Call list. Here is how you get your numbers registered on that list. Scammers? Not so much. Not at all.
Thanks to the Arizona Attorney General's Office for the preceding information and tips.