Better Business Bureau: How to avoid summer scams

EMBED </>More Videos

Online shopping, tax collection and even searching for a new job are all opportunities for scammers to trick you into sharing personal information. (WLS)

Online shopping, tax collection and even searching for a new job are all opportunities for scammers to trick people into sharing personal information.

But there are some things the public can do to protect themselves. Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau shared some advice about how to avoid falling victim to the top scams of the summer.
PRESS RELEASE

Top Five Chicago and Northern Illinois Summer Sizzling Scams: BBB Offers Tips on How to Avoid Them

Fraudsters often change their tactics with the seasons, and continue to come up with new schemes to scam businesses and consumers. With the official start of Summer, local data just compiled from BBB Chicago and Northern Illinois Scam tracker shows the hottest summer scams to watch out for in our region. Better Business Bureau has been able to pinpoint the top five summer scams in the Chicago region so you know what to avoid.

BBB president and CEO, Steve J. Bernas says, "We know that scams are cyclical, as an example, every summer we see an increase in employment related scams. With our new data, we are able to better gauge the impact of those scams and others."

Number one on the list this summer:

Tax collection scams - Commonly known as the IRS Scam - 50% of all reported scams and inquiries fall under this category. While tax scams are nothing new, the various schemes fraudsters are coming up with are new. In the latest twist, the Internal Revenue Service is warning people that scammers have added reference to the automated Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Here's how it works:

Scammers claiming to be from the IRS are calling victims and telling them they've sent out two certified letters in the mail that were returned as undeliverable. They use this new twist to seem more legitimate because the IRS mails letters to communicate with taxpayers. If you receive a phone call saying mail sent to you from the IRS was undeliverable and your address is still the same as the last tax return you filed, then it's probably a scam.

The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:

Call to demand immediate payment using prepaid debit cards, gift cards or wire transfers.
Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Other scams on the top five list are:

2. Government Grants - Fake calls and notifications saying you have an accepted grant.
3. Employment - Identity and money theft is common attack on job seekers
4. Tech Support - Scareware, Ransomware, and false tech support calls

5. Online Purchases - Everything from fake ads to bogus websites and merchandise

BBB urges you to familiarize yourself with what schemes are common this time of year and to follow our "10 Steps to Avoid Scams."

Search our databases anytime at no cost to find trustworthy businesses and valuable consumer information. Visit http://ask.bbb.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Chicago and Northern Illinois serves 19 counties in Illinois.

BBB SAYS TRAVEL SCAMMERS CAN DAMPER YOUR VACATION PLANS

CHICAGO - June 06, 2017 - The official start to summer is just days away so it's time to get those vacation plans wrapped up and start packing. Regardless of your destination, before you start relaxing Better Business Bureau recommends you shop smart for your travels. That's the only way you can be sure to avoid a scam, score a good deal and enjoy a great trip.

"Everyone likes a deal but when it's an offer for a "free vacation" put your guard up," says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Vacation scams surface in many ways, robo-calls, emails, texts, or pop up offers on your social media. You must be careful because that free or low-cost vacation can end up costing you more than you bargained for."

Here are clues that signal - this may be a scam:

You've "won a free vacation" but you have to pay some fees first
A legitimate company won't ask you to pay for a prize. Any company trying to sell you on a "free" vacation will probably want something from you - taxes and fees, attendance at mandatory timeshare presentations, even pressure to buy "extras" or "add-ons" for the vacation, etc. Find out what your costs are before you agree to anything.

The prize company wants your credit card number
Especially if they say it's to "verify" your identity or your prize, don't give it to them.

They cold-call, cold-text, or email you out of the blue
Before you do business with any company you don't know, check them out at http://ask.bbb.org/.

They don't - or can't - give you specifics
They promise a stay at a "five-star" resort or a cruise on a "luxury" ship. The more vague the promises, the less likely they'll be true. Ask for specifics, and get them in writing. Check out the resort's address; look for photos of the ship, etc.

You're pressured to sign up for a travel club for great deals on future vacations
The pressure to sign up or miss out is a signal to walk away.

You get a robocall about it
Robocalls from companies trying to sell you something are almost always illegal if you haven't given the company written permission to call you. That's true even if you haven't signed up for the national Do Not Call Registry.

To avoid getting scammed:

Find a reputable travel professional
Ask family and friends about companies they use and visit the BBB website at http://ask.bbb.org/.

Call to verify your reservations and arrangements
When you have the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the airlines, car rental companies, and hotels you'll be using, confirm all arrangements yourself. If you have a problem and can't get the help you need go elsewhere.

Pay by credit card
It gives you more protection than paying by cash or check. If you don't get what you paid for, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company. However, don't give your account number to any business until you've verified its reputation.

Consider using a travel app
Travel apps can help you search for airfares and hotel rates.

Consider travel insurance
Travel insurance can protect you in case there is a need to cancel.

To find trustworthy businesses AT NO COST and for more important consumer information visithttp://ask.bbb.org. Also, follow us on Facebook, Twitter or add us on Instagram.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Chicago and Northern Illinois serves 19 counties in Illinois.

Related Topics:
businessbetter business bureauscamtraveltaxesonline shopping
(Copyright ©2017 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

Load Comments