A Steady Stream Of Scams

At the BBB, we have operators standing by from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week. Their job is to answer questions from the public, provide requested information and keep their ears open for possible patterns of fraudulent activity. Many times, it’s the work these operators do that helps us identify new scams or shady operations that pop up in our service area from time to time. The sooner we identify these schemes or dishonest operators, the sooner we can get the word out to the public through the press or our social media sites: http://www.facebook.com/thefirstbbb and www.twitter.com/thefirstbbb.

One thing our operators hear about every single day? Scams! We hear about them from consumers and we hear about them from businesses. Every so often, it will be a new scam they’re reporting, but for the most part the scams are ones that have been around for a long time; sweepstakes scams, advance fee loan scams, work-at-home scams and mystery shopping scams. For businesses, the most common scams are Yellow Pages scams (where entities pretending to be affiliated with Yellow Pages send companies bogus bills in the hopes they’ll be paid with the rest of the bills) and other similar fake invoice scams.

Though we do our best to educate the public on these scams, scammers know their “business.” They’re constantly working to add new wrinkles to their schemes or adjust the wording on their “offers” so that people just might believe they could be true. From there, it isn’t hard to get them to open up their wallets.

In an effort to keep track of scams we hear about, and to educate and show people just how prevalent these scams are, we’ve started a Scam Log. Each scam a consumer or business reports to us is logged and then added to a running tally of scams which we update regularly. You can find our scam log (or report scams you’ve come across) at http://minnesota.bbb.org/scam-log/.

If you buzz through some of the scams at that site, you’ll see there are definitely patterns that emerge; most of the scams all share red flags, such as people being asked to wire money, people receiving checks out of the blue for large amounts of money and getting offers and letters that sound far too good to be true. If nothing else, it makes for interesting reading and might help you or a loved one avoid the scams that are circulating in our region now.

If you receive a suspicious offer or an offer you believe to be fraudulent, we encourage you to tell us about it at 1-800-646-6222 or report it here. Remember, it’s the reports we receive from the public which often help us head off these scams and prevent consumers and businesses from falling victim to them.

For more information on common scams and how to avoid them, visit www.bbb.org.