There’s a good chance you or someone you know has or will have a run-in with a scammer this year.
The Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island works to help consumers avoid scams of all kinds from the door-to-door handyman to telemarketing scams.
On Wednesday, the BBB released its annual Top 10 Scams list.
“There not much of anything new – just a variation of what we’ve seen before, but they’re all scams,” said BBB chief executive officer Rosalind Scott.
The Better Business Bureau logs every scam that it receives throughout the year by phone, email and website.
A new scam to hit the list this year is the trending click bait where scammers use popular or “trending” news and entertainment topics to trick consumers into clicking on fake links to videos, images and post embedded in social media sites, on websites and emails.
“It usually takes you to a website you don’t want to be at and usually malware and viruses. The red flag is there will be a lot of sensational language around it,” Scott.
“You have to be careful and make sure your newsfeed really is a newsfeed and not just luring you.”
Scott said the best way to avoid a scam is to use common sense. “Nine times out of 10 people actually know that something’s not quite right. They want to believe it so they go for it anyway.”
Mass marketing fraud costs Canadians $10 billion each year, according to the RCMP’s commercial crime branch. The number has been growing steadily since 2007.
The Top 10 Scams of 2014, according to the Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island:
• Credit/Loan – When applying online for a personal loan beware of the advance fee scam. Victims are told they must wire money to cover an application fee, and/or to purchase insurance before receiving a financial loan.
• Door-to-Door Handyman – Beware suspicious contractors, going door-to-door, using “limited opportunity” sales tactics and offering too good to be true verbal deals on home repair opportunities.
• Vacation Prize Giveaway – Automated phone recordings pretending to come from legitimate airlines, hotels or vacation booking agents lure consumers into believing they are eligible to win a vacation prize.
• Computer Virus Telemarketing – Telemarketers claiming to represent Microsoft contact homeowners to inform them that their computer has been infected with a virus, which if not solved immediately will result in the computer becoming unusable.
• Phishing Masquerades – Many computer virus and phishing scams masquerade as the emails or websites of legitimate businesses and organizations.
• Fake Debt Collection – Beware telephone calls from scammers claiming to be debt collectors tracking down payment for loans never received or for loans that were received, but for amounts no longer owing.
• Unauthorized Billing – Both consumers and businesses are finding themselves victims of billing scams in which their credit card statements included minor charges for unknown products or services.
• Counterfeit Drugs and Health Products – Consumers are being lured by too good to be true print, TV and online advertising for miracle drugs, eye care and health and beauty products.
• Directory Invoice – Local companies are being aggressively targeted vis fax and email with a fake invoice that appeared to be for advertising in a popular business directory.
• Trending Click Bait – scammers use popular or “trending” news and entertainment topics to trick consumers into clicking on fake links to videos, images and post embedded in social media sites, on websites and emails.