Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the foremost experts in the industry to bring you news of recent scams and fraud attempts that are making the rounds. By reading up on this information from sources like Scam Detector, you can help raise awareness of these crimes and prevent others from becoming victims.
#1 – Try This Tip Scams
If you’ve spent even a few minutes on the internet, you’ve seen them: ads that promise everything from instant untold wealth to easy weight loss remedies. The problem comes from actually clicking the ads, which direct you to seemingly genuine news articles from reputable sources, celebrity endorsements of their product, and more. Since it’s all available for free, after you pay a minimal shipping and handling charge, you might be tempted to give it a try.
Unfortunately, once you hand over your credit card information to cover that shipping charge, you’ll quickly discover the additional membership fee that you didn’t notice in the fine print. This fee, often as high as $100 or more, is non-refundable, even if you do manage to get in touch with a customer service agent.
Do not be taken in by any fast promises, especially in the Wild West-atmosphere of the internet. Avoid handing out your financial information to sources you don’t know, and be sure to read all of the agreements before signing up for anything.
#2 – Company Buyout Scam
This one works by convincing you of an event that actually does happen, which is having one company buyout another. It happens all the time, so many victims don’t think anything of it. In this scam, which can happen online, by phone, or even in person with a visit to your house, you’re told by an official-sounding customer service agent that your current service provider has been bought and that there are forms you need to sign. This service could be your phone service, cable service, alarm system, or virtually any other type of contract-based service that relies on a monthly fee.
The problem comes in when you discover that your service provider wasn’t bought out, and that you instead were scammed into signing a contract for a new service account with a competing company. In order to cancel this contract, you’ll be required to pay a significant cancellation fee, and it’s your word against the mystery representative’s when it comes to saying you were scammed.
Remember that companies will always inform their existing clients in the event of a buyout, and any changes to your existing service or contract will be put in writing for you. Do not sign any forms without verifying their authenticity, and confirm the changeover in companies with your original service provider before agreeing to anything.
#3 – Stop Smoking Products
This scam, while a face-to-face scam instead of an online scam, makes our list this week due to the higher than normal presence of kiosk sellers in the shopping malls at this time of year. Selling everything from ornaments to hair products to “as seen on TV” items, these kiosk vendors work by enticing you to make an impulse purchase.
One such kiosk that has cropped up is a for a fake stop smoking aid. In this case, a worker encourages someone he sees with a cigarette to try a product that is guaranteed to help end cravings. In this scam, you’re asked to put down your cigarette so the worker can spray the miracle product in your mouth—a product which is only water—but while your attention is diverted to this spray, an assistant smears the end of your cigarette with the same burning product that is used to cure nail biting. You just got duped into paying a lot of money for a spray bottle filled with water, believing that it will make your urge to have a cigarette disappear.
While this scam will only work on a smaller percentage of the population who both smoke and live in an area where smoking in shopping centers is permitted, we included it in this week’s report to serve as a reminder that temporary kiosks can be a source of great holiday finds, but can also be a source of headaches. Remember that these locations are not secured and do not operate as permanent businesses in your town, so think twice about handing over your credit or debit card when making a purchase from these carts.
For the rest of Scam Detector’s top ten scams of the week, check out their website or look through the current scams on the ITRC website.
If you liked this article, please consider donating to the Anyone3 campaign.