That’s why Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington has put together the Top 10 Scams of 2014 so consumers can be aware and better protect themselves in 2015.
10. Vishing and Phishing
Scammers use telephone calls and emails to try to obtain a consumer’s personal information. Their goal is to steal identities to commit fraud.
9. BBB Impersonators
Even BBB is not immune to scams. In 2014, BBB’s DuPont office received 24 reports of fraudsters posing as the agency. Consumers can check the legitimacy of an email or phone call by contacting BBB directly.
8. Debt Collection
Fake collection agencies call and claim consumers owe credit card debt. They try to gather personal information such as social security and bank account numbers.
7. Phony Loans
Consumers fall victim to companies that claim to help them get out of debt. The company asks them to send money on a prepaid card, but never delivers on the services it promised.
6. Computer & Microsoft
Scammers tell consumers their computers have been hacked and they need to gain access in order to fix it. The scammers end up downloading malware or stealing personal information.
5. Lottery & Sweepstakes
“You’ve won millions!” That’s the bait from lottery and sweepstakes scams. The caller tells the “winner” all he needs to do is pay a few thousand dollars in taxes and fees, then the jackpot is his to keep. Often the consumer never entered the contest to begin with. Genuine lotteries simply subtract any fees or taxes from the prize.
4. IRS Imposters
Consumers receive threatening phone calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller tells the consumer he owes taxes to the government and will be thrown in jail unless he pays. The IRS says they never call people who owe money; instead, they notify debtors via mail.
3. Phony “Scholastic School Supply” Invoices
Scammers pose as the popular school supply company, sending out fake invoices to schools across the country. School officials would send payment but never receive any supplies.
2. Ebola “Cure”
Scam artists prey on the public’s fear of Ebola and claim that they have a cure or magic potion that can prevent the disease. The FDA says there are no approved vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat Ebola.
1. Russian Hackers
In August, the New York Times reported that a Russian crime ring amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion username and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses.