The Riskiest Scams of 2018: Don’t be a Victim!

March 6, 2019

BBB 2018 Scam ReportTech savvy scammers are working hard to scam more consumers. Employment scams were the riskiest scams in 2018, according to the latest report from the Better Business Bureau.

The reported employment scams had more instances and higher losses than in previous years when they ranked the third riskiest. The report is based on data supplied by consumers to BBB Scam Tracker and is based on the BBB Risk Index, which is a unique algorithm that calculates exposure, susceptibility, and monetary loss to offer a more accurate assessment of scam risk.

“This was a surprise,” said Melissa Lanning Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, which produced the report. “It’s the first time since we began this report three years ago that one scam dominated across so many demographic subgroups. It was the riskiest scam in three of the six age groups, and for both men and women. It was also the riskiest scam for military families and veterans, and students.”

The BBB says digging into the Risk Report shows one possible answer: Amazon was in the news a lot in 2018 with its high profile search for a second headquarters. It was also the 6th most impersonated organization mentioned in BBB Scam Tracker reports, after not even making the top 15 in previous years. In 2017, only 24 BBB Scam Tracker reports were employment scams that mentioned Amazon. In 2018, that jumped to 564.

“Scammers are opportunists,” says Trumpower. “Whatever is in the news or being talked about on social media, they see as an opening to imposter a recognizable and respected organization or brand.”

The Internal Revenue Service is the leading impersonated organization, and other government agencies together rank second. Other leading brands that scammers impersonate include Publishers Clearing House, Microsoft, Apple… and the Better Business Bureau.

Amazon, a BBB Accredited Business, has only one authorized job application site: amazon.jobs. Any other link is a scam, said Trumpower.

“Employment scams are particularly egregious because they prey on people who are already feeling pinched and may be desperate for work,” she said. “If the scam gets far enough, scammers collect the same information that real employers do – address, birth date, Social Security number, bank account – everything needed for identity theft.”

The ten riskiest scams of 2018 were: employment, online purchase, fake checks/money orders, home improvement, advance fee loans, romance, tech support, investment, travel/vacation, and government grant.

Click here to check out a report on the findings on CBS Morning News.

To report a scam, go to BBB.org/ScamTracker.

To learn more about different scam types, go to BBB.org/ScamTips.

Home Renters Dinged on Car Insurance

May 4, 2016

Good drivers pay more for auto insurance if they rent, rather than own, their home, according to new research by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” renter Autumn Yoakum said.  “There’s no difference between me and a homeowner besides a mortgage.”

Said renter Karim Maghaaoui: “If you’re a good driver, your insurance should be lower.”

The average increase in 10 states surveyed showed renters were charged 7 percent more for their premiums, an average of $112 a year.

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Sugar: It’s the New Tobacco

February 11, 2016

You won’t find a Surgeon General’s warning on your bag of sugar, nor is it regulated by the FDA. Yet sugar can be far more addictive than cocaine, and Americans consume way more than they should.  Much of it is found in processed foods and sweetened drinks.  According to a study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine in April 2014, most U.S. adults consume about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day.

Ingestion of sugar, like many drugs, causes a release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain.  For those who are prone to addiction, eating “junk food” which contains added sugars can cause a craving for more sugar which can only be satisfied with increased and steady doses.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added simple sugar (not counting whole foods, fiber, or starch) recommended per day is:

  • Men — 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons)
  • Women — 25 grams (6 teaspoons)
  • Children– 12 grams (3 teaspoons)
  • Pre-Teens/Teens — 20 grams (5 teaspoons)

To compute the caloric count, multiply by four.  For example, 25 grams of sugar is equal to 100 calories.

Overuse of sugar is a leading contributor to obesity in both children and adults, and has been linked to high cholesterol and heart disease, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, inflammation, suppression of the immune system and headaches.

Read the Label

Many common foods, which one might not think of as sugar-laden, have a surprising amount of it.  For example:

  • 1 Tb catsup – 4 g
  • Starbucks Latte Grande – 17 g
  • Graham cracker – 8 g
  • 20 oz Vitamin Water – 33 g
  • 12 oz can of soda – 39 g

Know What You’re Reading

There are literally dozens and dozens of names for sugar and artificial sweeteners found in processed foods.  Some common ones are Aspartame, corn syrup, fructose,  Saccharine, Splenda and Sweet’n’Low.   Some not-so-well-known names are gluten, isolate, sodium cyclamate and truvia, and anything ending in “ose,” such as dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose or sucrose.

Food for Thought

Be a smart and healthy consumer.  “Everything in moderation” is good advice when it comes to most things.  However, if you are one of the unlucky ones with an addictive personality and have a problem with sugar, learn the names used for added sugar in food, read all labels, and avoid something that can cause you so much harm. Stick with whole foods, including fruits (but not juices), and use raw honey to satisfy that craving for sweets.

Top Complaints about Airline Travel

February 5, 2016

When it comes to flying, getting where you want to go on time always seems to be an issue. Flight delays and cancellations top the list of complaints.

“You keep watching your departure time go up and up and up. That is quite frustrating,” said traveler Frank Evans who had just flown into Tampa from Canada.

Dana Hampton, who was headed to Atlanta, echoed that frustration, “Nobody wants to be delayed ‘cause you have to change everything, so no one likes it.”

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Drug Company Whistleblower Exposes Serious Problems at Plant that Makes Generics

November 6, 2013

A drug company whistleblower who exposed serious problems at the company that makes popular drugs used in the United States is telling his story to CBS News.  Kinesh Thakur worked for major, drug manufacturer Ranbaxy which made generic versions of drugs like Lipitor and antibiotics at plants in India.  He revealed disturbing problems with data the company was required to provide to the FDA to show the effectiveness of the drugs it produced.  It’s a cautionary tale for all Americans, particularly when you consider that 80-percent of all drugs prescribed in the U.S. are generics.  Click here to watch this report by CBS News Correspondent John Miller.

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Taxpayers are Paying for For-Profit Colleges

September 20, 2013

If there’s one thing all taxpayers want it’s value for their money, but there’s a big question about whether we’re actually getting it with for-profit colleges.

Many have been accused of predatory recruiting practices, providing substandard education and even falsifying job placement data.

But still, the U.S. government provides a whopping $30 billion a year in federal financial aid dollars to these schools.  It makes up nearly 90-percent of their total revenue. So why are we paying for it?

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Do Non-Profit Hospitals Give as Much as They Get?

April 30, 2013

Many hospitals in your community no doubt enjoy tax exempt status because they are designated as non-profit.  But what does that really mean?  It’s not that they don’t make a profit, because they most likely do. The difference is these corporations are supposed to give back to their communities. Reporter Marni Jameson took a fascinating look at the issue in a front page story in the Orlando Sentinel.  Click here to learn more about what she discovered.

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Fight Back! File a Complaint When You Have a Problem

April 9, 2013

If you’ve been ripped off or are fed up with the run around and bad service, fight back!  The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants you to file a complaint when you have a consumer problem.  We often feel powerless as consumers to effect any change, but if you don’t take that extra few minutes to make people who CAN make change aware of a problem, nothing will ever improve.  CFPB Director Richard Cordray told TODAY.com he wants to hear from you.  Take him up on it!

The CFPB is already taking complaints about problems with credit cards, mortgages, banks and private student loans.  They’ve logged some 90,000 consumer complaintS, so far.  The CFPB will start taking complaints about debt collection later this year.  Cordray says the complaints make it possible to see patterns of problems so they can take action to do something about it.

Right now you can file complaints with the CFPB on these issues:

  • Bank account or service
  • Credit card
  • Credit reporting
  • Money transfer
  • Mortgage
  • Student loan
  • Vehicle or consumer loan

Click here to read more on Cordray’s interview with TODAY.com.

 

How Wall Street Escaped Prosecution in the Mortgage Crisis

January 24, 2013

Slapping a pair of handcuffs on wealthy executives can be a major deterrent to crime, but remarkably, Wall Street big wigs have been able to completely avoid jail time in the mortgage crisis that sent our country into a financial tail spin from which it has yet to fully recover.

In a fascinating new documentary, PBS’s Frontline investigates why Wall Street leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages.  Click here to watch this compelling report which takes a hard look at the actions of prosecutors and why they fell short.

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How to Deal with a Medical Bill Mistake

August 28, 2012

Navigating the ever-confusing medical system is enough to leave you frustrated and exhausted these days.  One of the biggest pains is getting an improper medical charge fixed. A recent study by the American Medical Association found that  one in 10 bills paid by private health insurance have mistakes. That’s means you need to be extra diligent when you receive a doctor’s bill or Explanation of Benefits from your health insurance company.  The Today Show took a look at how to handle a bad charge on a medical bill on its LifeInc.com website.

A few key tips:

1. Understand your insurance coverage. Knowing your deductibles and co-pays — things you should check before you receive treatment (if possible) — will help you spot when something might be amiss, according to the Healthcare Billing & Management Association.

2. Keep track of what services you have received and what you’ve paid and keep the records.

3. When you receive an “Explanation of Benefits” form from your insurer, don’t just file it or toss it in the trash.  Be sure to read it, and if something is not being paid for, find out why. Otherwise, you could be financially responsible.

4. Don’t just pay a bill if you think something should be covered by your insurance. Some medical offices send out statements that look like bills, before receiving an insurance payment.  Check any statements against your Explanation of Benefits.

Click here to read more in the full article on LifeInc.

 

 

 

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