List of top consumer scams released

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation

Jason Knowles Image
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Consumer groups warn of most popular scams
Several consumer advocacy groups revealed a list of the most prevalent scams targeting consumers on Thursday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Several consumer advocacy groups revealed a list of the most prevalent scams targeted at consumers on Thursday.

John McCartney recently dealt with a plumbing emergency in his basement, so he rushed to the yellow pages and called a local company. But he and the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection says he was a victim of one of the most popular scams: home repair fraud.

"You haven't had water in three days, your basement is busted up and you don't feel well," McCartney says, "so they know how to take advantage of people when you are 82-years-old."

He says he paid $10,000 but his insurance company says the job should have only cost about $1,800. The city fined the plumbers in court.

"I was mad," McCarney says. "I felt stupid."

Today the BACP commissioner, the Better Business Bureau, the Illinois Attorney General and other federal authorities warned the public of the most popular scams as part of Consumer Protection Week.

"Once you wire your money away I am here to tell you it is difficult or impossible to get your money back," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says.

Many of the scams have been reported by the I-Team like the spoofing scam, where phone numbers from con artists appear to be coming from banks on caller ID; imposters who say they're from the IRS and demand payment; and the granny scam, where callers use young adults' social media to track down their grandparents then say they're the grandchild who needs cash.

"The scammers are going to do it one of two ways," Madigan says. "They are either going to get you to directly send them your money or they are going to get you to give them enough information so they can indirectly take your money from you."

Some other popular schemes include offers for loans that come with large up-front fees, and fake bills which claim your account is past due and your utilities will be shut off if you don't wire cash.

The biggest advice to fight all of these scam artists is to be cautious of anyone demanding that you do something right away.

Consumers should also research companies online and check records with the BBB, before hiring them.