Each year the Better Business Bureau (BBB) compiles data to determine the highest number of inquiries for various scams.
According to the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, work-at-home schemes topped the list of most scam inquiries, accounting for 33% of scams in 2012.
Based on data from the BBB, here are the top 10 scams of 2012 in the Chicago and Northern Illinois region:
#1: Work-at-Home Schemes
Telecommuting jobs and work-from-home job offers that require sending money for ‘training materials’ or to cover some type of fee are typically scams. Before agreeing to work at home for any business you don’t know, check the company out free of charge at www.bbb.org.
#2: Advance Fee Brokers
Businesses charging a fee prior to providing a personal loan are breaking the law and if you ever have to wire money to someone in order to receive a loan, that ‘lender’ is probably a scam artist.
#3: Credit Repair Services with Advance Fees
This can be tricky to catch because many scam artists know how vulnerable someone who is dealing with credit problems can be. However, any credit repair offer that requires paying a fee in advance is most likely a scam.
#4: Foreign Lotteries
If you’ve received any type of notice from someone in a foreign country claiming that you have one a lottery overseas, it is a scam in disguise. Any type of lottery from a foreign country is illegal in the United States. These scams typically involve wiring money – supposedly to cover taxes and fees.
#5: Prize Promotions
If you’ve been notified that you’ve won some type of contest or promotion and are asked to provide personal information such as your social security number or a credit card number for verification, don’t do it. You’re likely the target of a prize or promotion scam by someone looking to steal your identity or defraud you financially.
#6: Office Supplies – Sale by Deceptive Marketing
This scam involves sending fake invoices for office supplies to various businesses in hopes of a quick sign off because the amount is usually quite small. However, a closer look at the invoice and company behind it often reveals some type of scam.
#7: Pyramid Schemes
Pyramid schemes set up by individuals or companies are illegal because the returns to existing investors are paid by the personal money of new investors instead of any actual profits made by the business. Pyramid schemes continue to grow very quickly and then collapse as funds dry up.
#8: Debt Relief Services
Any debt relief services that request advance fees are violating Federal Trade Commission rules. While there are some legitimate debt relief service providers out there, many people fail to do enough research about various companies before sending money to cover ‘fees’.
#9: Traveling Contractors
When major natural disasters strike – such as a tornado, hurricane or earthquake – traveling contractors frequently go roving through the affected communities. But many paving, painting, tree removal, home improvement, or repair contractors that request money upfront to pay for materials and other costs may actually be scam artists. Once you pay what they request, they may never actually show up to get the work done. Others who do show up and have access to your property may be planning to burglarize your property.
Be suspicious about any sweepstakes stating that you’ve won prize money, especially a sweepstakes you don’t even recall entering. Just like the promotion scam, this sweepstake fraud is really just a cleverly disguised attempt to get you to fork over money or divulge your personal data. Usually, there really is no prize.
While many scams go unreported, the Better Business Bureau encourages everyone who may have been a victim of a scam to file an official report and provide as many details as possible.
In some cases, it’s also important to report the incident to local authorities that can investigate the issue further.