BBB releases latest scams and bad business list

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The Better Business Bureau has released its list of the top consumer issues for September.

 BBB Business Reviews now offer more information. BBB Louisville is testing Customer Reviews, which will allow consumers a chance to post comments, positive or negative, that will help others in the search for a business they can trust. BBB will also publish the actual text of customer complaints and business responses as part of each business’s Business Review.

 OnlineBusinessScams is falsely charging for BBB complaint resolution services. The company charges consumers an upfront fee of $1,500 to $2,000 for help in collecting money owed from businesses only to forward consumers’ complaints to BBB. One consumer says after he paid fees he received an information packet that included an envelope addressed to the BBB. BBB services are free.

 Beware of Sept. 11 scams on social networking sites as the 10-year anniversary passes. Beware of videos that claim to have “exclusive” or “unseen” pictures. They could contain viruses.

 September is National Preparedness Month. Be ready and prepare a kit with enough emergency supplies for three days, including water, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, prescriptions, a flashlight, a battery powered radio and anything a pet might need. Designate two locations for the family to meet if there is a disaster, one near home and one away from home. More tips are available at www.ready.gov.

 E-mail Hijackers take control of an e-mail account and send e-mails to friends and family members in an address book, telling them about some kind of trouble and asking for money. The hijacker asks the friend or family member to wire the money. Those who receive a “help letter” should call the person directly.

 Gas Card Scam — Local consumers are receiving postcards in the mail offering $200 worth of free gasoline. The card asks people to call (866) 556-9682 to claim a free prize. They then ask for a credit card number to pay $2.95 for shipping and handling. This is a scam.

 The Check is REAL. Consumers across the country are receiving refund checks totaling $3.2 million. The checks are for people who were sold bogus “auto warranties” that turned out to be extended service contracts. The FTC charged that Transcontinental Warranty hired telemarketer Voice Touch Inc. to hit people with robocalls claiming warranties were about to expire. The calls sounded like they were coming from consumers’ car dealerships or manufacturers.

 Auto Scam — Scam artists have successfully “sold” cars online for “too good to be true prices,” for years, claiming they have to sell the car because they are moving overseas or because of military deployment. Now they are also posing as sites like Ebay Motors, offering “buyer protection guarantees” and using live chat to sell vehicles. Beware.

 Consumers in various parts of the country are reporting to BBB that they are receiving auto-dial telephone calls on cell and land line telephones with messages telling them their debit cards have been frozen. They are told to press 1 to correct the problem. The consumer is then asked to enter their card number. Consumers are also receiving similar text messages. Do not reply to these. This is an attempt to steal personal information.

 Ever receive an e-mail “Advocating your Candidacy for Who’s Who?” The e-mail comes from Continental Broadcasting Network Inc. of New York. The website states that the “offer” is really a sales pitch, and in order to receive any status with this organization, people need to pay a fee for an “award winning” listing. BBB considers this type of organizational sign-up to be misleading.