Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker. Take a look at some of their recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Credit Repair Scam

There are a few universal truths that make it easy for scammers to cold call their potential victims. Everyone would love to take a vacation, they all have to pay taxes, and there’s an excellent chance you have at least one credit card that carries a balance. That’s why these three topics are on a short list of favorite scam attempts.

Repairing your credit score and paying off out-of-control debt is an incredibly serious matter that involves meeting with a credit counselor. This counselor can help you do the math and know what mount to pay to reduce your balances, can work with your lenders to reduce your interest rate or even your total balance, and can help get you on the road to being debt-free. Sadly, they have plenty of clients, so many that they do not need to resort to auto-dialing your phone to drum up new business.

If you receive an unsolicited phone call from someone who wants your personal information—like credit card numbers or Social Security numbers—and promises you they can erase your debt, hang up.

#2 – Account Cancellation

Whether it’s a phone call, an email, or even a mailed letter, if you receive some kind of threat that requires you to take swift action to resolve a matter, you should immediately become suspicious. In one reported case this week, a man received an email from his bank that his account had issues and was facing immediate cancellation unless he clicked the included link and resolved the matter.

Thankfully, he ignored the email and contacted his bank directly, who confirmed that it was a scam. The link in the email would have likely installed malicious software on his computer.

To find out if any kind of threat is genuine, remember to always go to the source using a verified contact number (not a number listed in the communication, since the scammers would answer that phone and confirm the contents of the letter) before you take any action.

#3 – Prize Winning Scam

One report to the BBB this week can only be described as bizarre. A caller informed a would-be victim that she had won a new Mercedes. He told her he would be delivering the car personally and that she need only pay the fees for the prize. According to the report, she must have actually given him her home address.

Instead of delivering her car, he arrived in a cab and demanded the fees. Fortunately, the victim refused to pay him as he had not brought the car.

The bizarre part? He claimed the prize was from the Better Business Bureau as a reward of some kind!

Remember, you will never win a prize or award that you never entered, and a legitimate prize does not require you to front any money or pay any fees. If you’re told you must jump through hoops to claim your prize, it’s a scam.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services, and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

Take a look at some of their recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Apartment Rental Scams

Finding an affordable place to live in a nice neighborhood can be daunting, and there are a lot of websites that promise to help you find one that meets your needs. Unfortunately, the chances of falling for a scam are really high in this type of online finder service.

One report to the BBB this week was from someone who not only paid a fifty dollar “application fee,” but also turned over all of his sensitive personal identifiable information on the form. Now, not only does he have no apartment and has had no luck in reaching customer service about a refund, he’s also receiving scam attempts via text message and email.

Short of doing all your own legwork, it’s hard to avoid turning over your information for this kind of help. All you can do is make sure you’re working with a highly reputable company that has good reviews from genuine customers.

#2 – Tech Support Scam

This phishing attempt comes around quite frequently, and it works when the victims aren’t very familiar with computers and technology. A caller informs you that your computer has been infected, and then states that he can clean it for a fee. There are a couple of things the scammer may be after, depending on how sophisticated his own technology is.

If the scammer isn’t that tech savvy himself, he’s only after your personal information and your credit card (which you use to pay for the service). If he does have a little more computer skill, he’s after sensitive information stored in your computer, which he’ll most likely get by installing a virus and gleaning the data later.

Remember, tech companies do not hire people to sit around and watch their customers’ computers for any signs of trouble. If you’re having issues, you are the one who reaches out to tech support. The only exception would be if you’ve signed up already for a monitoring service, in which case you will recognize the company who’s contacting you and they will be able to verify your account.

#3 – Employment Scam

A new employment scam has made the rounds, one that offers the victim a job interview but requires fees in order to apply. This scam plays off the fact that the job seems completely genuine—a housekeeping job that candidates actually have to interview for in person, as opposed to suspicious work-from-home internet jobs—but there are hidden fees required before you can interview. In this scam, victims paid over $200 each to the interviewer for an OSHA card, and then never heard from the company again.

There are jobs that require you to fulfill obligations before you can begin employment, but be wary of postings that require you to pay before you can interview, and that require you to pay the company who’s posting the job. Yes, many companies require background checks or a drug test, for example, but even if that fee is passed on to the applicant, you typically pay it to the agency conducting the check, not to the potential employer.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services, and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

Take a look at some of their recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Puppy Scams

Scams work because they target our emotions, and the puppy scam is no different. There are many variations on it, from a breeder with a website filled with adorable photos to sob stories about a puppy that is free to a good home; the end result can be falling victim to a shipping scam.

There are legitimate companies that ship animals, but there are also too many scammers out there looking for a quick buck via the anonymity of the internet. Any company that requires you to pay upfront, only accepts payment through a money wire like Western Union, or is trying to “give” you a free puppy from a foreign country probably isn’t legitimate. If in doubt, remember…there are plenty of loving pets looking for a good home right in your town.

#2 – Phishing Mail

If you’ve spent more than five minutes on the internet, you’ve probably already received a phishing email. This is a communication that tries to get you to comply with the instructions in order to scam you out of money. But now that word has gotten out about emails like the famous Nigerian Prince emails, scammers are having to switch tactics.

All during the recent tax season, reports came in about scam phone calls that claimed to be IRS agents, stating that the victim owed money and was facing criminal penalties. Now that the tax filing deadline has passed, victims have reported receiving postcards with ominous sounding names like “Compliance Violation Division,” claiming the individual has violated some regulation and is being held accountable.

Remember, you are under no obligation to pay money to someone who calls you or emails you and demands payment immediately. However, mailed correspondence is a little more genuine, but can still carry risks of scams. Always contact the company directly—NOT using the phone number listed on the postcard—and ask to speak to a customer service agent about your account.

#3 – Past Due Invoice

There were multiple reports in the past week about businesses receiving “overdue” invoices, some of which even threatened to send the matter to a collection agency. Many of these invoices involved overdue payment for business ads in the Yellow Pages, but attempts to contact the invoicing company not only showed an out-of-service phone number or a fax line, but also that the company who’d sent the invoice was not associated with the Yellow Pages. The scammers send these out in hopes that you’ll just pay the bill, but it’s important that you don’t. Never send in payment for any unexplained bill without speaking to a customer service agent from the company.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services, and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Unsolicited Check Scam

There are so many variations on this scam that it’s hard to keep track of them all, but one report to the BBB last week said the victim received a fake check for $2,000 that appeared to come from Walmart. The accompanying letter gave the recipient instructions on completing a “quality control” job, and that this paycheck would serve as compensation.

In reality, cashing the check would open up a floodgate of possibilities, including identity theft, account theft, bank fees for an invalid check, or automatically subscribing to an ongoing charge.

Remember, there is no such thing as free money, especially in the form of an unsolicited check for a job you never applied for. Scammers are playing off of our desire for extra money; they certainly won’t be the ones to lose out in a situation like this.

#2 – Good Citizen Scam

This variation on tax scams is really tricky, and it’s perfect for this time of year. While many people will still file their tax returns on (or after) the mid-April deadline, a lot of citizens have already filed and even put their refunds to good use. Those people are ripe for scammers to come after with a “good citizen” scam.

Scammers posing as IRS agents—either through phone calls, emails, or even postal mailers—claim that you are entitled to additional funds as the government’s way of thanking you for filing on time.

Even if there is some truth to government award programs, no one will contact you and ask for your personal identifiable information in order to “process” this reward. Think about it… they’re with the state or federal tax office. They already have all of your information, including where you work and how much money you made last year. Yet scammers call and ask you to “verify” your information, which allows them to steal your identity.

#3 – Online Dog Breeder Scam

All scams are horrible, but ones that play off our emotions as a way to pressure us to cooperate are particularly bad. In this report, the victim was strung along by an internet scammer who claimed to be selling puppies. After much back and forth and promises of the dog—complete with photos—the victim finally agreed to pay half of the asking price via instant wire transfer. Of course, there was no dog. The asking price of $500 plus an additional $200 for shipping resulted in the victim losing out on half that money and never hearing from the scammer again.

When you’re buying something online, the internet can be a Wild West of options. If you have the choice to only deal with well-known, reputable companies, that’s usually a safer bet. But when dealing with individuals, always do your homework. Read reviews from other buyers who’ve dealt with this individual, and contact those people directly for more information if you can. Speak to the seller on the phone and verify as much as you can about him or her. Ask for copies of state licenses if you’re working with someone who sells something that is regulated, and request a notarized document describing the item for sale and proving its existence. Finally, when it comes time to pay, use an authorized escrow-type payment service that will hold the funds and guarantee the consumer’s protection if an issue arises.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services, and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Credit Card Interest Scam

Everyone wants to save money, and to think that they are making smart choices with their finances. So when an individual calls you to offer you a lower interest rate on your credit card, you’re bound to take it seriously. Unfortunately, once a scammer has your interest, you’re more like to fall for fraud.

In a recent scam report to the BBB, the caller—who claimed to be from the would-be victim’s credit card company—stated that he was eligible for a lower interest rate. All he would need to do in order to process the better rate would be to verify all of his information, including account number and Social Security number.

Fortunately, the recipient doesn’t have a credit card with that company, but even more importantly, he smelled a scam and refused to turn over his data. It’s important to remember that no one who calls you will ever need all of your information, and that anyone who contacts you and asks for sensitive information like your Social Security number is not to be trusted.

#2 – Government Grant

Just in a matter of a few days, multiple reports were made to the BBB about government grant scams. Callers who identify themselves as working for the US government to distribute free grant money are really just looking for your personal identifying information and account information in order to steal your identity and your money.

While it’s true that a lot of grant and scholarship money goes unclaimed every year, there’s a basic reason for that: because the process of applying for those funds is very involved. The government simply does not call random citizens and offer them money. No one does, and if you’re ever offered money or gifts in exchange for your information or a small application fee, hang up immediately.

#3 – Debt Collection Scam

This is a strange variation on an old scam, and it’s alarming because it’s far too easy for it to work. In this instance, a caller contacted the victim about a current debt. The caller claimed to work for a payment processing center, and stated that the debt had been sent to this company in order to work with the victim on making payments. It sounded a lot like a collections company, but somewhat friendlier.

The victim agreed to make payments since he did, in fact, owe the debt. Unfortunately, the company wasn’t real, and the debt wasn’t actually paid off. The victim paid the full amount of the debt (broken up into two payments), but now he still owes that amount to the original debtor.

Remember, you will never have to make payment in any way to someone who calls you over the phone or emails you. You may be sent reminder notices or receive reminder phone calls, but all legitimate payments will be initiated via a paper bill; follow up messages are fine, only after the original debt has been stated in writing with complete company information and account numbers. If you’re contacted and told to make a payment immediately, request a letter in writing and then verify it before ever sending a dime.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services, and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data.

The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Secret Shopper Scam

Mystery shopping has been among the top scams for a long time, and it keeps working because there are actually legitimate mystery shopping companies out there. The way to tell a scam from the real thing, though, comes down to whether or not you have to pay any money to sign up, receive lists of stores, or set up your own mystery shopping jobs.

But there’s a new take on it, and it combines the work-from-home scam with a money laundering scam. In the version reported this week, the victim was paid with a personal check and told that the shopping job involved depositing the check into her bank account, keeping $500 for completing the job, then wiring the remaining $1600 to another person via Moneygram.

If the victim had followed through, the original personal check would have bounced and the $1600 money wire would have been taken out of the victim’s bank account.

There is no legitimate reason why you should ever receive a check and then turn around and send a portion of those funds to someone else. It is a known front for criminal activity and financial fraud.

#2 – Bad Check Scam

This scam plays upon your fears of criminal action after informing you that you’ve broken the law. The victim received a letter that appeared to be official, informing him that he had bounced two checks. It went on to say that there were now bad check charges filed against him, and if he did not pay the amount of the checks plus his court fees, he would be arrested.

Here’s the catch: the letter stated that the only way to pay the fine was with a certified check. The victim couldn’t transfer money from his savings account to cover the checks, for example, or go down to the police station and pay in cash.

Whenever you’re given only one payment option—and it’s an untraceable method, like prepaid debit cards or money wires—that should cause you to think twice. A quick phone call to your bank will let you know if you’re the target of a scam or not.

#3 – Ransomware Scam

Ransomware is a form of cyberattack that can affect anything from a Fortune 500 company’s network to the smartphone in your pocket. There are a variety of different ways that your technology could have become infected, but the end result is still that a scammer is holding your device or computer for “ransom.”

It happens when you’ve accidentally installed some malicious software. A box or screen appears that tells you your computer is infected, and nothing you do seems to fix it. If you call the phone number or go to the website to fix it, you’re told to pay a fee to “clean” your system. Sometimes these messages seem to come from a legitimate source, like Microsoft informing you that your network is compromised and they can repair it; other versions have been far more sinister, as in a hacker actually stating he was responsible for this and will only remove it if you pay up.

The most important thing to do is never give in to the demand. If you cannot unlock your system yourself, take it to a computer repair office and see what can be done. Turning over your credit card number to a scammer in order to remove the issue only gives them your financial information, and may not even remove the problem.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Charity Scams

There should be a special punishment for scammers who steal your money while pretending that it will go to charity, but that’s exactly what one victim reported to the BBB this week. A young woman came through the neighborhood selling magazines door-to-door, supposedly to raise funds for charity. An additional layer of charitable giving was even offered, as you could opt to order a subscription and have it sent to a children’s hospital.

While there were a few shady aspects to the visit, the victim ultimately gave the saleswoman a check for the full subscription amount. Only after thinking about it later and doing some homework online did the victim find all of the complaints against this supposed charity.

It’s sad that you have to guard your donations carefully in order to protect them from a thief, but that is the reality of it. In order to be sure that your hard-earned money actually goes to help its intended recipients, only make your contributions to recognized, approved charities who can provide you with proper documentation.

#2 – Utility Scam

There are a wide variety of utility scams out there, but they all hinge on you believing the phone call or notice you received originated from a necessary resource. If you’re under the impression that your electricity, water, or phone service will be shut off, you’re more likely to ignore the warning signs and comply with their requests.

One of the many forms that a utility scam can take is to convince you that you’ve failed to pay an old bill or an old late fee. Of course, the scammer would love for you to make a payment over the phone so he can steal your credit card, but the goal can also be to get your Social Security number (under the pretense of “verifying” your account) or your bank account number (by pretending to debit the late payment electronically).

Remember, this all comes down to ignoring a stranger’s request for information in order to protect your data. Never make a payment for any reason to someone who calls you out of the blue, and never share your personal information with a caller.

#3 – Facebook Response Scam

This is a more recent innovation in online marketing since even scammers have to market themselves online. You might have seen these in the comments’ sections of web articles or as comments on your friends’ Facebook posts. These posts promise everything from guaranteed loans to work-at-home opportunities to diet solutions. There’s only one actual guarantee, though: it’s a scam.

If you’re actually looking for financial loans or weight loss support, a Facebook friend could certainly steer you in the right direction. But a random spammy comment from a complete stranger probably isn’t going to yield good results. Only click on trusted links and follow sound advice from known sources.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data.

The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker. It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Nigerian Money Exchange Scam

You’ve probably heard of the “Nigerian prince” emails, but have you ever wondered how they’re intended to work? In any form of money exchange scam, you agree to hold money for someone in exchange for getting to keep a portion of it. There are really two different pitfalls here: the first is that you’ve just accidentally engaged in money laundering (a serious crime), and the second (more likely) scenario is that there is no money, but you’re tricked into thinking it’s been deposited into your account. When you go to send the individual back his portion, you’ve really just drained your own bank account.

There’s something interesting to note about the Nigerian prince emails. You’ve probably noticed that the grammar and writing are exceptionally bad, and that the story is so farfetched. There’s an intentional reason for that. According to multiple sources, the poor quality helps the email get past the spam filters that are programmed to look for certain phrases, and the scammers only want gullible people to fall for it. If a savvier person reads the email and dismisses it as a hoax, then he’s not wasting the scammer’s “valuable” time.

#2 – Disability Assistance Scam

In a new scam that was reported to the BBB last week, the victim received dozens of phone calls and text messages from various people, all claiming to work for the same service. The very genuine-sounding callers purported to be with an organization that helps individuals who’ve been turned down for disability benefits.

In this case, the scammers are just throwing darts at a list of phone numbers, hoping someone they contact has applied and been turned down. All they’re really after if the victim’s identifying information, particularly his Social Security number.

Never, ever give out your personal information to someone who contacts you. If they’re legitimate, they would already have all of your information. And no, they don’t need you to verify it for them. They called you, remember?

#3 – Direct Deposit Scam

If you’re ever contacted by any agency, organization, or company and told that you’re owed a refund that must be paid by direct deposit, it’s a scam. In this week’s report to the BBB, a victim reported that a company called her office and stated several owed payments were being held since the only method of payment from the company was direct deposit. The caller then stated that he needed their bank account number and routing number in order to process those payments.

False. You will never set up direct deposit over the phone with a caller who reaches out to you without prior notification. In most cases, direct deposits are set up via a signed (and sometimes notarized) form anyway, so handing over your bank information and your account number to a stranger who calls you is a surefire way to have your account drained.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Family Imprisonment Scam

The old Nigerian prince emails used to be almost humorous, but due to more awareness of the issue, scammers have had to switch tactics. Now, many of the phishing emails and phone calls are anything but funny. In one recently reported scam that cost a victim almost $7,000, it was a grandson who was being held in a foreign prison. He needed bail money wired to the “police” immediately.

There’s an interesting twist on this specific report, though. The couple fell for it and wired money via Walmart Money Gram. The next day, they received a phone call from someone who claimed to be with Walmart, informing them that this was a scam and they were due a refund. All they had to do in order to receive the refund was…you guessed it…send more money in order to “verify” the account. They just got scammed twice.

NEVER wire money to anyone who claims to be holding your family member hostage. Always verify your loved one’s location, and call the police if there’s actually a reason to believe someone is in danger.

#2 – BBB Scam

What better way to trick you into handing over your money or your identity than to pretend to be the very people who track these kinds of scams? One victim contacted the Better Business Bureau after receiving a voicemail… claiming to be from the Better Business Bureau!

How are you supposed to protect yourself from scammers who appear to work for the “good guys?” It actually happens all the time. Imposter scams include every possible scenario: law enforcement, the IRS, legal defense teams, schools, hospitals, and yes, even the BBB. If you receive a cold call from someone who claims that you owe money, that you are in some kind of danger (physical or legal), or that you are in any way responsible for making a payment of some kind, hang up. Contact the company or agency they claim to work for directly using a verified phone number (NOT one that the caller provided, as that could lead right back to the scammers) and find out what the issue is for yourself. NEVER give them any payment information or personal data.

#3 – Yellow Pages Scam

It’s important to understand that this particular scam happened to involve a known entity, the Yellow Pages. However, it could apply to any company name at all, and can victimize anyone.

Several reports have come in from small businesses who received a fax that appeared to be an update request for the new phone book. Instead, after sending back their current information, the ugly letters and phone calls began; the sender claimed the original document was actually an order form and that the victim now owes a lot of money. Failure to immediately comply has resulted in victims being harassed and even threatened.

Again, this scam has taken on the guise of the Yellow Pages, and there’s no reason to think the legitimate company is involved in this. It can also happen in exactly the same way, to any kind of victim and with any other company name on it. Always know what you’re signing and submitting, and keep copies of it as proof that you did not place an order or enter into an agreement. If a caller continues to harass you or threaten you with legal action, report the matter to law enforcement.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Tech Support Scam

A scammer reaches out to you—typically by a message on your computer or by phone—and claims to be from tech support for Windows, your computer’s manufacturer, or some other related company. He explains that there are corrupted files on your computer and he has to get in there to fix the issue. The scammer wants access to the victim’s computer in order to dig around for useful information, but be aware that other versions of this same scam also involve callers who offer to “clean” the virus from your computer in exchange for credit card payment for the service. In any case, tech support departments do not work this way; it’s a scam, and you should never give access, information, or payments to someone who calls you.

#2 – Lottery Scams

Lottery scams are certainly nothing new, but the reports that came into the BBB this week had a twist that was straight out of our nightmares. It’s not enough that a cold caller contacted the victim to inform him he’d won a million dollars and a new car in the MegaBucks drawing (a real lottery, by the way). But in this situation, in order to claim the prize, the victim had to meet the “prize committee” at his bank, presumably to deposit the massive check. From there, the conversation took a different turn: they wanted to come to the victim’s house. No one who ever contacts you out of the blue should have any reason to come to your home. If it can’t be handled by mail through a legitimate postal service or shipping company, through email, or through other safer means, you must distance yourself from the situation immediately.

#3 – Work from Home Scam

Work from home scams are as old as the postal system. In the olden days, you bought your kit, you paid for your supplies, you may have even paid for training materials, and at the end of the process the only person who was better off was the individual who sold you all of those goods. Now, thanks to the internet and the abundance of job hunt information, it’s easier than ever for someone to steal your identity by posing as a potential employer.

One person who received a work-from-home employment opportunity in the past week was contacted out of the blue by someone who wanted to hire him, but needed his highly-sensitive information to conduct the “background check,” as well as his bank account information in order to set him up on direct deposit. Those are very plausible reasons to ask for a victim’s identifying information…AFTER he has the job, NOT as part of the hiring process. Never give out this level of information during the hiring process, and never give it to someone who contacts you without prior communication.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.