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BBB Says Scammers Prey On Distressed Consumers, Pt 1

A recent report issued by a consumer advocacy group warns that distressed consumers are targets for scammers. Kip Morse, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio says that in 2010, "scammers had a field day targeting those looking for work and trying to make ends meet."

Ohio bankruptcy attorneys know that stronger consumer protection laws have been enacted in an effort to further constrain scammers from preying on financially distressed Ohio residents. This blog has reported stories regarding scams created to prey on distressed consumers. The BBB recently released a list of the most common complaints it received in 2010 to help consumers avoid being taken in this year.

Distressed consumers are often prey to scammers that use an advance-fee loan scam. Consumers and business owners are told they qualify for a loan. The catch is the scammers offering the loan require an advance fee, possibly as high as $1000. After the money is wired to close the deal, no loan is ever issued. The distressed consumer has lost the advance fee.

In 2010, home repair scams soared by 40 percent nationally, according to the BBB. Door to door solicitors offer home repair or roofing services, without ever delivering on any contract entered into at the time of solicitation.

Overpayment scams have also become more prevalent in the tough economy. People selling goods on craigslist, business-owners and landlords with rooms to rent are common targets of the overpayment scam. The scammer sends a check for the goods or service, but "overpays." The scammer asks for the amount overpaid to be returned, usually asking for the money to be wired electronically. The original check is fake, leaving the seller to pay bank fees and also short by the amount sent back as overpayment.

Later this week, this blog will continue the list of scams most commonly reported to the BBB.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Scammers prey on neediest," Tracy Turner 10 Jan 2011

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