Our Consumer Watch Team hears about it every day; Oklahomans ripped off by a business or people we thought we could trust. Despite so many deals sounding too good to be true, many of us still fall for the traps.
None of us wants to be the next victim, so here's the top scams to look out for in 2013, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Loan Scams – This scam requires the first payment upfront then a so-called insurance policy to secure the loan. Legitimate lenders don't work that way.
Utility Bill Scams – We've seen this one in Oklahoma. The caller claims there's a new government program designed to pay your utility bills. The scammer just wants our personal and bank account information to steal our identity and our money.
Grandparents Scam - The caller claims to be your grandchild and for some reason or another is in a bind and needs money wired right away. Most likely our loved one is safe at home. The thief has our money and is onto its next victim.
Lottery Scam – To collect the millions, we have to pay taxes or fees first. In the end, we're out money and never see that so-called jackpot. A word to the wise: you can't win a lottery if you didn't enter. And we will never be asked to pay anything up front for winnings.
Home Improvement Scams - Oklahoma sees its share of natural disasters and scammers know it. So be aware of home improvement scams. A lot of shady contractors are simply "storm chasers" who take our money and run.
Car Ad Scam - An online ad states a company we'll pay for us to drive around with their logo on our car. Sounds too good to be true! Chances are, it is if they send out a check, asking for us to deposit it then wire part of the payment to the graphic designer who will customize the car ad. A week later, the check bounces, the graphic designer is nowhere to be found and we are out the wired money.
Mystery Shopper - Who doesn't love to shop? That's why a mystery or secret shopper sounds enticing. Most likely this offer is another form of the overpayment or fake check scam.
Fake Facebook Tweets - Scam artists are also showing up on social media sites, claiming to be a friend with a video link attached to a message. Click on it and there's a good chance our computers will contract a virus.
Fake Goods Scam - Sports memorabilia and phony tickets also make the list of top counterfeit goods. Remember, if it sounds too good of a deal, it probably is. We're better off paying a little more for the real thing.
Charity Scams - Crooks will fool any kind hearted soul into thinking their donations will go to help storm victims or even victims of national tragedies. Before we give, make sure it's to a reputable agency.
The BBB investigates thousands of scams every year. Here are two new websites they've recently launched to help us figure out which offers are real and which ones are possibly frauds.
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Thank you for your e-mail. I read every letter, but because of the volume it may take a while for us to get back to you. If we see a way to help, the Consumer Watch Team will contact you. Amanda Taylor, NEWS 9 Anchor/Reporter