Top 10 Most Popular Consumer Scams

Michael Bennett
September 30, 2015 - 243 Views

The Better Business Bureau receives thousands of messages from consumers each month complaining about a scam they have fallen victim to or that they have spotted. Some of the scams only involve a few dollars, others have cost people their life’s savings. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the number of complaints continues to rise and the total money lost to these scams every year is staggering. Considering that people are still recovering from the recent economic downturn and the economy remains sluggish, this is money that people simply cannot miss. At the same time, it shows a desperation on the side of the scammers, who will do anything to get their hands on some money.

The Better Business Bureau, which operates across both this country and Canada, regularly publishes lists of the different scams that are out there. They use a range of sources for this information, including victims and information from various federal agencies. The total list of existing scams is now so long that it would be impossible to write them all down. Hence, ten scams are listed below, which are classed as the ‘top’ scams. They are at the top not because of the amount of money that they were able to take, but rather the ones that are targeting the largest population groups in the country. If you feel that you have been victimized by any of these scams, or any other, you must contact your local law enforcement professionals immediately.

10. Work At Home Scams

Work at home scams have been around for many different years. There are many different advertisements that offer people the opportunity to take part in paid work from home opportunities. When you apply, you will be asked to pay for training materials or registration. Once you have done this, you will receive no further response from the company. Some of these scams go a step further and ask victims to invest in the company, which will ensure they have a greater chance of being successful. Naturally, the company does not exist at all and the victims will never see any of their money again. Because so many people are looking at ways to supplement their income from home, this scam is growing in popularity.

9. Property Investment Scams

Property investment scams invite prospective investors to view a presentation, during which they will be asked to take part in a course. It is pointed out that while the course requires a fee, those who take part will then be able to make really good real estate deals without having to put any money down. These scams often come with a range of examples of properties that are available. If these properties were checked out in real life, however, they would either not exist at all, or they would turn out to be ruined, run down or condemned buildings.

8. eBay or Other Auction Re-Seller Scams

In eBay scams and other auction re-seller scams, fraudsters pretend to be eBay buyers. They then convince the seller to send the item to them before having paid for it, using convincing tactics, such as claiming that it is for a birthday or anniversary celebration, a family member abroad, or even a member of the military who is about to be sent on tour. They will then take an image (which is forged) of a statement that shows the payment is being processed through PayPal, thereby convincing the seller to send the item off. You should never send anything through eBay unless the payment has been verified.

7. Medical Alert Scams

With medical alert scams a telemarketer will phone victims and tell them that a member of their family has bought a medical alert system for them as a gift. They particularly target caretakers and senior citizens and will ask for bank account details of the recipient of the ‘gift’ so that they can check their identity. Naturally, there is no medical alert system, and the bank details are used to plunder someone’s account or max out their credit card. This scam really shows people that they should never give out any kind of personal information and that there is no such thing as ‘free’ in this world.

6. Invisible Home Improvements Scams

The invisible home improvements scams are some of the most disturbing scams of all. They target people who have been a victim of a natural disaster, invalids or the elderly. Scammers will usually make house calls, pretending to be a home improvement contractor. They will state that they happened to be in that area and want to give you a fantastic deal on fixing things that are generally invisible, including things like crawl spaces, ducts and chimneys. No work will ever be done, but payments are taken. It is vital, therefore, that you research any company that wants to complete work on your property before you sign any money over to them.

5. Text Messages Scams

Text messages scams are incredibly hard to see through. They often appear to be from your credit card company, bank or insurance provider. The message will say that your account has been deactivated for a plausible sounding reason, asking you to click on a link to reactivate your account. This link will also look very genuine, as will the page it directs you to, and you will then be asked to enter your personal information. Once you have done this, they will be able to access all your financial information. Some may even download malicious software onto your telephone, so that they can access anything that is stored there.

4. Debt Relief Services Scams

When the economy isn’t strong, people often struggle with their finances and get into debt. This leaves the door open to debt relief services scams, whereby a pretend company promises to solve any debt issues that someone may have – for a small fee. This fee is generally never recovered. The Federal Trade Commission has instated rules that mean no debt relief company is allowed to ask for an advanced fee. However, many consumers do not yet know this, which means they continue to be targeted by fraudsters.

3. Do Not Call Scams

Thanks to the National Do Not Call Registry, people have been able to avoid receiving phone calls from genuine telemarketers. While this means that anyone who is registered on it and still receives a call can immediately know that they are speaking to a scam artist, the list itself is becoming a target for fraud. Scam artists are called ‘artists’ for a reason, because they are able to create something out of nothing regardless of the situation. So, while the Do Not Call Registry is a great and highly popular method of protecting yourself, it is also a way to actually become targeted. Some scammers, for instance, will call people and pretend to be a representative from the Registry, asking them to confirm some personal details. These details are then used for the purpose of identity theft.

2. Fake Friend Scams

The fake friend scam is one of the newest types of scams. It involves the social media platform Facebook. Essentially, a victim will receive a friend request from someone whom they are in fact already friends with. They presume that the friend has started a second account for whatever reason. In reality, however, the new friend is a scam artist. They now have access to your personal information, which they will use to create a picture of who you are. This is why it is so important to have strong privacy settings in place at all times. You must also be very wary of those whom you do and do not connect with on social media.

1. Affordable Health Care Act Scam

Since Obamacare was launched, it has been open to a range of different scams. Usually, a victim will receive a telephone call from a fake government employee, who states that they need information so that they can send out the new health care card needed under the Affordable Care Act. They will often ask for details such as a social security number and bank account and use this to clean out a bank account. This is a particularly malicious and highly prevalent fraud scheme to be aware of.

Michael Bennett

About Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is Editor-in-Chief of Consumer Protect.com. Since 1999, he's worked across a multitude of areas of consumer protection including defective products, environmental issues, identity theft, predatory lending and more. If you find his articles helpful please share them with your readers.